Controversy hits appointment of envoy to Sri Lanka

The controversy over the appointment of a new envoy to Sri Lanka has not only caused diplomatic embarrassment to the country, but has also exposed the flawed procedure for the appointment of retired military officers on ambassadorial posts. — Photo courtesy Pakistan High Commission Colombo Facebook

ISLAMABAD: The controversy over the appointment of a new envoy to Sri Lanka has not only caused diplomatic embarrassment to the country, but has also exposed the flawed procedure for the appointment of retired military officers on ambassadorial posts.

In a statement issued on Sept 30, the Foreign Office said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had made a number of diplomatic appointments. Among those appointments was that of retired Maj Gen Saad Khattak as the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. He was to replace retired Maj Gen Shahid Hashmat in Colombo, who had completed his two-year contract.

However, an objection was reportedly raised by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak over Gen Khattak’s appointment as the high commissioner at the cabinet meeting held a day after his appointment was made public. The government then decided to cancel the appointment.

A source at the Foreign Office claimed that by the time the government changed its mind on his posting, the Sri Lankan government had already been requested for its consent, which is called ‘agrément’ in diplomatic lingo, for appointing Gen Khattak as the high commissioner. In diplomatic practice, the consent of the receiving state is mandatory for ambassadorial appointments.

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