ISLAMABAD - Race in the foreign ministry has begun among the senior diplomats to clinch the top position of foreign secretary, as incumbent Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood would be retiring from service by 29th September 2022.

There are five senior officers of BPS-22 who are being strongly considered for the slot including Johar Saleem (Pakistan Ambassador to Italy), Moinul Haq (Pakistan ambassador to china), Dr Asad Majeed (Pakistan Ambassador to Belgium), Special Secretary Raza Bashir Tarar and Pakistan High commissioner to Canada Zaheer Janjua.

Pakistan Ambassador to Ankara   Syras Qazi who is in BPS-21 is also being considered as next foreign secretary. His board for promotion is due in October this year. Sources in the foreign office said that issue with Ambassador Moinul Haq and Ambassador Johar Saleem is that both would be retiring from service next year, which was why their names could be dropped. Pakistan Ambassador to Belgium Dr Asad Majeed, among the most senior and experienced diplomats, could be dropped due to the cablegate scandal. Foreign Ministry’s Special Secretary, Raza Bashir Tarar could be dropped for having family connection with former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Sources said Ambassador Cyras Qazi has emerged a strong candidate for the foreign secretary position as he has three more years to his service. If Ambassador Qazi is made foreign secretary then Johar saleem would be made DG Foreign Service Academy. However Ambassador Moinul Haq would continue to serve in Beijing.

Sources confided that there is a very serious issue with High commissioner to Canada Zaheer Janjua as his spouse is US citizen, and he could be dropped on this basis. Summary containing three names of diplomats out of five could be moved to the PM Office in the first week of the next month by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would consult both FM Bilawal and SAPM Tariq Fatemi for the final choice for the FS position.