Pakistan’s Sial assumes office as Saarc secretary general

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 2, 2017-

Amjad Hussain B Sial, the newly appointed secretary general of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), assumed office on Wednesday. 

Sial from Pakistan succeeds Nepal’s Arjun Bahadur Thapa as the Saarc secretary general. Recent tensions between India and Pakistan had created confusion over Sial’s appointment as the Saarc secretary general, as India had maintained that the appointment should be endorsed by Saarc Council of Ministers and not through a diplomatic note. 

India later decided not to obstruct Sial’s appointment with Nepali officials saying India and Pakistan could have patched up with each other, at least to appoint the successor of Thapa at the Saarc Secretariat. 

According to the Saarc process, rejection by even one member state stalls the appointment.  “Article V of the memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the Saarc Secretariat that specifies the requirement of appointment by the Council of Ministers for the secretary general,” India had mentioned in response to Sial’s appointment. 

 Officials argue that consensus on Sial’s name was possible after a recent thaw in relations between India and Pakistan. Tensions flared up between the two nuclear rivals in South Asia following a terrorist attack on an Indian army base in Uri of Kashmir, leading to the postponement of the 19th Saarc Summit that was scheduled for November in Islamabad. 

 The two countries also have differences over some key Saarc initiatives such as the Motor Vehicle Agreement, Saarc Energy Grid and the Saarc Satellite proposed 

by India. 

In a letter to the Saarc Secretariat last month, India had expressed its concern that “formal communications on this important matter are not being circulated to all member states by the secretariat”, requesting adherence to the working procedure. 

 “Sial is a seasoned diplomat from Pakistan Foreign Service with a career spanning over 33 years. He holds a Master’s Degree in Defense and Strategic Studies from National Defence University, Islamabad,” a Saarc Secretariat statement said.

 He has a rich experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy both at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad and missions abroad. He was director (Pakistan) from 2003-2006, at Saarc Secretariat Kathmandu.

Published: 02-03-2017 08:32

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