Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has indicated to the External Affairs Ministry that key diplomatic appointments to Washington,United Nations and Pakistan should be left to the new government after the general elections.
Government sources told The Indian Express that Singh gave this directive after the Ministry of External Affairs moved the proposal for the appointment of Sharat Sabharwal,at present Special Secretary (Administration),as the next High Commissioner to Pakistan,succeeding Satyabrata Pal who attains superannuation at the end of this month. Pal will take over as member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),replacing retired foreign service officer Ranjit Singh Kalha.
The extended tenures of Ambassador to United States Ronen Sen and Permanent Representative to United Nations Nirupam Sen end on March 31. Both have had tenures co-terminus with the UPA Government Nirupam Sen got extensions in the past with the support of the Left parties till they withdrew support to the Government last year over the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The Prime Minister apparently conveyed to the MEA that as these three appointments are crucial to foreign policy,these should be decided by the next government. This means that New Delhi will not have a High Commissioner in Pakistan for at least three months because the new government is likely to be sworn in by late May. Going by present trends,current Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon and Indian Ambassador to Germany Meera Shanker are front-runners for the jobs in Washington and New York.