First published: January 25, 2017, 2:17 PM IST | Updated: 10 mins ago
File photo of Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit.
New Delhi: Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit is a frontrunner to be the country’s new foreign secretary, Dawn reported on Wednesday.
The post will fall vacant after incumbent foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, who has been designated as ambassador to the US, moves to Washington to take up his new assignment replacing outgoing ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Basit is the most senior in the panel of four being considered for the post and has a varied experience of both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 and has remained Foreign Office spokesman and served on the disarmament desk.
Basit was PM Sharif’s first choice for foreign secretary when he last picked one in 2013 and was asked in writing to return to headquarters from Berlin for the new assignment. But later the prime minister changed his mind and appointed Aizaz Chaudhry in Dec 2013. Mr Basit was then sent to India as high commissioner, Dawn said.
Dawn speculated that what could go against Basit is the differences that emerged when the high commissioner hosted Kashmiri leaders ahead of planned Pakistan-India foreign secretaries’ meeting in Aug 2014 leading to the cancellation of bilateral talks. The paper said the meeting with Kashmiri leaders was just one incident and there were series of missteps that sowed misunderstandings.