Amid the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan, the government has approved the appointment of Sohail Mahmood as Pakistan’s next high commissioner to India, according to Times of India. Mahmood is a top diplomat of Pakistan and will replace the incumbent envoy to India Abdul Basit this month.
The Indian Express had reported in February that Mahmood was likely to replace Basit soon. Basit was appointed in 2014.
Mahmood joined Pakistan’s foreign service in 1985. He is a career diplomat. A Pakistan government source had in February said, “Mahmood is a senior diplomat who has handled high-pressure responsibilities, and can do this job well.”
Mahmood served as Islamabad’s envoy to Turkey from 1991-1994 for the first time. He served in various Pakistan missions abroad, including Washington, New York after that. He worked as Pakistans Ambassador to Thailand from 2009-2013.
While Mahmood hasn’t served in India before. But it has hardly been a criterion for selecting Pakistan’s envoy to India — neither Basit nor his predecessors, Salman Bashir and Shahid Malik, served in India before being posted as the high commissioner here.
Before assuming his position at Ankara, Mahmood was Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, where he earlier served as Director General (2005-2009), Director (1995-1998) and Section Officer (1986-1991). He was born in 1962 and has done Masters in History and International Relations.
Besides Mahmood, Afrasiab Mehdi Qureshi (currently High Commissioner to New Zealand), Iftikhar Aziz (Additional Foreign Secretary for Administration in headquarters), Tasnim Aslam (Additional Foreign Secretary for UN Affairs), Farrukh Amil (Ambassador to Japan) and Syed Ibrar Hussain (Ambassador to Afghanistan) were among the other contenders for the New Delhi position.