The government of Pakistan has finalised the name of General (retired) Bilal Akbar as its new Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is expected to take charge in May 2021. Raja Ejaz Ali, a career diplomat and currently Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is to retire on the May 18 2021.

Government has also finalised the appointment of Afzaal Mahmood, a career diplomat who is currently Pakistan’s Ambassador to Bahrain, to be the country’s diplomatic face in the UAE, Afzaal Mahmood is to take up the assignment shortly. The Pakistani mission in the UAE is currently being run on ad-hoc arrangement after the retirement of Ghulam Dastageer, a career diplomat who was previously Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UAE. The newly appointed diplomat is well versed in the Arabic language, sources said.

Sources say that Prime Minister Khan has in principle approved the appointment of General (retired) Bilal Akbar, after which the formalities have been initiated for his appointment, which includes seeking of Agreema for the Ambassador designate.

Bilal Akbar’s appointment under the 30% non-career individual appointment quota, under which officers from the armed forces are often sent on important diplomatic missions. This, however, is not the first time when a former officer from the armed forces would be heading Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia.

With this, Islamabad and Riyadh both will be having each other’s ambassadors in their respective capitals from the armed forces, since the Saudi ambassador in Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Maliki was from the Royal Saudi Navy and retired as Rear Admiral. He was the defence attaché of Saudi mission in Islamabad and elevated as the ambassador here four years ago.

Sources say that the appointment of Gen Bilal Akbar is to be announced sometime near the end of February or early March, along with the announcement of the bi-annually posting plan of ambassadors to different missions.

In the proposed posting plan, Ameer Khurram Rathore, currently posted as Additional Secretary at the Foreign Ministers office is likely to be posted as Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Canada. The current Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri is likely to be posted to Spain as Pakistan’s Ambassador whereas the previous spokesperson of Pakistan’s Foreign office, Ms Aisha Farooqui is likely to be posted to Turkey as Pakistan’s Ambassador.


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