Pakistan appoints Abdul Basit as its new High Commissioner to India

Pakistan on Thursday appointed career diplomat Abdul Basit as its new High Commissioner to India.

Basit, 55, was earlier tipped to take over as Foreign Secretary but the government recently made several changes in proposed appointments.

The government initially zeroed in on Syed Ibne Abbas as the new envoy to New Delhi but changed its mind as officials felt he was too junior for the crucial posting.

Though the government decided on Basit, a former Foreign Office spokesman, nearly 10 days ago, a formal notification was issued only today, official sources said.

Basit will take over in New Delhi from former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is pushing for better ties with India.

Pakistan has called for the resumption of the composite dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues.

The sudden move to drop Abbas for the post in New Delhi was the fourth change in less than a month with regard to the posting of envoys in key world capitals.

Abbas' "agreement" (formal consent for posting) had been sought from the Indian government. A fresh request for consent will now be send to the Indian side.

Basit was tipped for the post of Foreign Secretary last month to replace Jalil Abbas Jilani, who has been named as the new Ambassador to the US.

Foreign Office spokesman and Additional Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, who was set to go as the envoy to Belgium and the European Union, is now expected to be made Foreign Secretary.

Basit earlier served as a Director General during 2008-09 and as Additional Secretary (Europe) during 2009-12. His last posting was as the envoy to Germany.

Current High Commissioner Salman Bashir had been asked to continue in New Delhi for Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's visit to India last week.

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