India attempting to block new SAARC chief, says Pakistan daily
An influential Pakistani daily has accused India of attempting to block on "procedural grounds" the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as the next Secretary General of the eight-member SAARC.
An article in ‘Dawn’ said that the SAARC secretariat runs the risk of remaining a headless body for a long time if the stalemate prolongs.
The article says that the turn of a Pakistani to head the SAARC Secretariat, which is held by rotation for a period of three years, starts from March 1, 2017, and continues till February 28, 2020.
This is the first time in SAARC's troubled history that it is moving towards a standoff over the Secretary General's appointment.
Amjad Hussain Sial, a career diplomat, had been nominated by Pakistan as the 13th Secretary General of SAARC to replace the outgoing Kathmandu-based SAARC Secretariat Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa, whose tenure expires on February 28.
Sial's nomination was made at the SAARC Council of Ministers in Pokhara (Nepal) in March 2016 and was endorsed by all member states.
New Delhi, however, through a diplomatic note last month asked the secretariat to adhere to the "due working procedures" in the appointment of Thapa's successor, it said.
The Indian position was that the nomination had to be ratified by the Council of Ministers meeting in Islamabad, which could not happen due to postponement of the summit after India and other members of the bloc pulled out of the meeting over terrorism.
Pakistani officials, meanwhile, accuse India of employing "delaying tactics". They insist that concurrence had been received from all members, including India.
Relations between Islamabad and New Delhi nosedived last year due to the aggravating situation in Jammu and Kashmir. India also accused a Pakistan-based militant group for the attack on one of its military camps in Uri and later withdrew from the SAARC summit that was to be hosted by Pakistan in November, citing concerns over terrorism.
(With IANS inputs)