Pakistan on Monday named Moin-ul-Haque, its envoy to France, as its next High Commissioner to India, a month after his predecessor Sohail Mahmood took charge as Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
Confirming the major appointments, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Naghmana Hashmi, career diplomat, was being sent to China. She will replace Masood Khalid, the incumbent envoy to China, after completion of his tenure.
Qureshi tweeted: “After consulting the Prime Minister, I am happy to announce following appointments. I wish the newly appointed officers good luck & hope they represent Pakistan with utmost dignity and effectiveness.”
Haque’s appointment comes at a time when ties between India and Pakistan will be a challenge for the new government in Delhi, with the relationship between the sides deteriorating over the past few years and reaching a new low after the Pulwama terror attack and the subsequent face-off after the retaliatory Balakot air strikes.Much will depend on Haque’s diplomatic skills to bring the ties back on track after the Indian election outcome on May 23.
Haque, who joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1987, has never served in India, although that has not been the criterion in the recent past: his predecessors Mahmood and Abdul Basit had also not served in India before their appointment as High Commissioner.
Haque started out as a desk officer for Bangladesh in 1989-90, and then trained in French language in France. Over the years, he has served in Brussels, New York, Colombo, Vancouver and Ankara.
He was Chief of Protocol from 2013 to 2015, and then became Additional Secretary (administration) in Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry – considered to be an influential position within Pakistan’s Foreign Service.
In the Foreign Ministry, he has served in the personnel division, the OIC summit cell, has had two stints in the Foreign Secretary’s office – as deputy director from 1997 to 1999 and then, as director or chef de cabinet from 2005 to 2007 – and has been Director General (Europe).
Both his stints in the Foreign Secretary’s office came during key periods in Indo-Pak relations – the first stint coincided with the May 1998 nuclear tests and second time, when the bilateral dialogue resumed under the rubric of the composite dialogue.