ISLAMBAD  - Incoming Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has tasked his close aides to find and shortlist suitable candidates, including retired career diplomats, for appointment in Pakistani foreign missions, as several envoys appointed on political basis have resigned.

Sources in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) told The Nation on Monday that Nawaz has asked his close colleagues including former ambassador to the US Tariq Fattimi to find suitable persons who could be appointed ambassadors and high commissioners in place of those who have resigned.

The move comes after Secretary Foreign Affairs Jalil Abbas Jilani in a recent briefing to Nawaz Sharif disclosed that 15 ambassadors/ high commissioners appointed by the previous government were working in various Pakistani foreign missions. Nawaz asked the foreign secretary to give notice to these envoys to resign and return to Pakistani before the new government is in place. As a result all of these were sent notices by the ministry of foreign affairs and eventually the ambassadors sent their resignations. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US and PPP central leader Sherry Rehman sent her resignation to the caretaker prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso much before the directives issued by the ministry of foreign affairs. Sources said that several retired career and non-career diplomats are making efforts to get the covet position, adding that few names including two former Pakistani ambassadors to the US Riaz Khokher and Dr Maleeha Lodhi were making rounds in the inner circles interested to secure the job. However final decision is to be taken by Nawaz, sources said.

Likewise, the name of Ch Muhammad Sarwar, a British national from Azad Jmmu Kashmir, is one of the names also under active consideration for appointment as Pakistani High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. However, some sources said that he might not be willing to surrender his UK citizenship and, therefore, would not qualify for the slot vacated by Wajid Shamsul Hassan. The sources further said that PML-N was also in search of suitable persons for appointment as ambassadors in UAE, Oman and Sri Lanka. It was further learnt that Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir and Pakistan’s permanent representative in the United Nations Masood Khan might not be replaced being the senior career diplomats, competent and well versed with country’s foreign policy.

 The sources in the Foreign Office maintained that it is the prerogative of the new government to make appointments in this regard. As per the existing formula the incumbent civilian government can make political based appointments at places it deems important to have a choice envoy instead of opting for a serving career diplomat.