After months of difficulty, Pakistan on Wednesday succeeded in getting its official elected to the post of Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Pakistan was backed by all members, including India, which made the selection consensus- based.
Officials at the SAARC Secretariat, however, said the election was of administrative nature and diplomatic intent should not be read in it. “As the incoming chair, Pakistan was supposed to provide the next Secretary General and all members of the SAARC allowed the smooth transition from Nepal to Pakistan,” said a source at the Secretariat in Kathmandu.
The new chief of SAARC, Amjad Hussein B Sial, is a veteran diplomat, who was expected to take charge a year ago. However, India’s tough stance on cross-border terrorism posed a problem for the candidate, who has been in waiting since March 2016.
Sources at the SAARC secretariat said the election of Mr. Sial was possible as India and Pakistan had indicated a greater willingness to allow SAARC to function.
Earlier, India opposed the holding of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November 2016 after the terror strike in Uri.
The Hindu had reported that India had sent delegates, including Joint Secretary in charge of SAARC, for a meeting of SAARC representatives in the first week of February to finalise the issue of budget and other administrative matters.
The Ministry of External Affairs has not yet commented on the issue.