ISLAMABAD -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday approved early retirement request by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit as the senior diplomat ostensibly was not ready to work under his junior - Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua - who was elevated to the top bureaucratic slot in March, sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Basit never gave any reason for early retirement but it was evident he was annoyed over the government’s decision to supersede him.

Basit was among the favourite candidates for the foreign secretary’s slot but Janjua had always been the frontrunner.

After Janjua was picked by the government, Basit had tried to quit but was asked to continue until a replacement in India was announced. Pakistan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Syed Ibne Abbas, ambassador in China Masood Khalid and former ambassador to France Ghalib Iqbal too were considered by the government for the foreign secretary’s job but were dropped.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that there was an understanding between the government and Basit that he would not take any assignment after returning from New Delhi. Originally, Basit should have retired in April 2018.

“He had effectively resigned in March but was asked to wait until someone was ready to replace him in India,” said the official, adding the prime minister appreciated Basit’s performance in India and his overall services as a diplomat.

Career diplomat Sohail Mahmood will replace Basit as the new Pakistan high commissioner to India. He will take charge in August. Basit had already completed his three-year tenure in New Delhi in March and was waiting for his successor. Mahmood’s earlier appointment was as Pakistan’s envoy in Turkey.

Another official said Basit was offered a senior slot in the foreign ministry but he declined to accept citing “personal reasons”.

“Apparently he did not want to work under Tehmina Janjua. There was no other reason,” he added.

The official said even in the Pakistan Army, it was a tradition that senior generals seek retirement when their junior is picked up for the army chief’s slot.

“This is not something that has happened for the first time in Pakistan. Abdul Basit had his claim to the top post and when he was denied this, he opted to bow out honourably,” the official said. Basit had joined the Foreign Service of Pakistan in 1982 and held several diplomatic assignments abroad.

Prior to his appointment as the High Commissioner to India in March 2014, Basit served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Germany from May 2012 till March 2014.

Tehmina Janjua’s predecessor Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry was appointed as ambassador to the US in February after completing a three-year term as the foreign secretary.

Chaudhry is a career foreign service officer with over 36 years of bilateral and multilateral experience in the field of diplomacy.

Janjua was serving as ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, when she was nominated for the foreign secretary’s slot.

She is the first woman to hold this post.

Janjua is known as a qualified diplomat – with a career spanning 32 years - and has held several important positions in the past.

She has rich experience of working in bilateral and multilateral domains both at the headquarters and missions abroad.

Janjua also served as spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the past.