Pakistan’s seasoned diplomat Amjad Hussain B Sial assumed office as the new Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Sial has assumed charge of the office of Secretary General of SAARC from March 1, 2017, according to a press release issued by SAARC Secretariat here.
He has succeeded Nepal’s Arjun Bahadur Thapa, who was appointed the Secretary-General in 2014. The Pakistani turn, which is held by rotation, starts from March 1, 2017, and continues till February 28, 2020. Sial’s nomination was made by Pakistan at the SAARC Council of Ministers in Pokhara, Nepal, in March 2016 and was endorsed by all member states.
He is a seasoned diplomat from Pakistan Foreign Service with over 33 years of career in the diplomatic field. Before joining the SAARC Secretariat Sial was Special Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad. He has a rich experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy both at Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad and Missions abroad.
Sial had served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan and permanent representative at Pakistan Mission to the UN. SAARC is an eight-member regional grouping that comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Last month, Pakistan’s Dawn News reported that India was attempting to block on “procedural grounds” the appointment of Sial as SAARC’s next secretary general. Reacting to the report, official sources in New Delhi had said India was not trying to block the appointment, it has only pointed out that “procedural” norms need to be adhered to which was also accepted by other SAARC members.