NEW DELHI - As the standoff with Pakistan continues over the death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian government has approved the appointment of top Pakistan diplomat Sohail Mahmood as country's next high commissioner to India, reported Times of India on Sunday.

Expressing hope that Mahmood will contribute positively to improving bilateral ties, diplomatic sources here said Mahmood has been given visa to allow him to take over from incumbent Abdul Basit this month.

This brings to an end months of suspense over the appointment of Mahmood, Pakistan's ambassador to Turkey, who is seen as the civilian government's choice. India has been keen to see the back of Basit believing him to be Pakistan army's man who was too hawkish, especially on issues related to J&K.

Pakistan has until now remained largely muted about its choice of Mahmood.

A career diplomat who joined Pakistan foreign service in 1985, Mahmood is known for his fluency in Turkish language. He has not had any direct role to play in Pakistan's India policy and is expected to arrive here, as an official put it, without any baggage.

Mahmood will take charge at a time when not just there is no official dialogue between the two countries, but when the situation has been further exacerbated by Pakistan military court's decision to award death sentence to Jadhav and the recent beheading of two Indian soldiers.

Basit, who has completed three years in India as high commissioner, was earlier overlooked by the Nawaz Sharif government for the position of foreign secretary.