Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cleared the appointment of career diplomat Aizaz Chaudhry,one of the key officials who handled the fallout of the 2008 Mumbai attacks,as Pakistan’s new Foreign Secretary.
Chaudhry,a moderate known for his strong conviction,earlier served as Foreign Office spokesman and Additional Foreign Secretary.
He was Director General (South Asia) at the Foreign Office at the time of the Mumbai attacks and frequently interacted with Indian diplomats when bilateral ties went into a tailspin after the terrorist assault on the financial hub.
Current Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani has already been named as Pakistan’s new Ambassador to the US. Chaudhry’s appointment came after he was promoted with several other diplomats this week.
“The decision has been taken but the outgoing Foreign Secretary is still here. It will become official when the notification is issued,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters on Friday.
Media reports had said the notification on Chaudhry’s appointment was issued yesterday. Asked for clarification,a top official told PTI,”The Prime Minister’s Office gave approval for Chaudhry’s appointment yesterday. The notification has not been issued. It is just a technical matter.”
Foreign Ministry officials said Chaudhry will take over as Foreign Secretary on December 26 after Jilani leaves for the US.
The government initially chose Foreign Service officer Abdul Basit for the Foreign Secretary’s post but subsequently reversed the decision. Basit has been appointed as the new High Commissioner to India.
Chaudhry joined the Foreign Service in 1980. Before his elevation as Foreign Secretary,he was serving as Additional Secretary of the UN division with additional responsibility as the Foreign Office spokesman.
He has also held diplomatic positions in Cairo,Doha,Tehran,Washington and New York. He has a master’s degree in international relations from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Massachusetts and a master’s degree in political science from Punjab University.