Career diplomat Asad Majeed Khan appointed as Pakistan’s new Foreign Secretary

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday appointed career diplomat Asad Majeed Khan, whose name appeared in the ‘Cipher Conspiracy’ controversy, as its new foreign secretary, ending weeks of uncertainty over the key appointment.

Majeed Khan is presently posted as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Belgium, European Union and Luxembourg, the Foreign Office said in a tweet.

“Dr Asad Majeed Khan, presently posted as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Belgium, the European Union and Luxembourg, has been appointed as the new Foreign Secretary,” it tweeted.

Separately, the Establishment Division issued a notification on the appointment.

The post fell vacant after the retirement of Sohail Mahmood in September this year, and instead of appointing a permanent foreign secretary, senior diplomat Jauhar Saleem was assigned the additional charge of the office of the foreign secretary till the position was formally filled.

It was speculated at that time that Majeed Khan was the apparent choice but could not be brought in as the issue of cipher conspiracy was at the center of the raging political tension in the country. The alleged conspiracy was based on a cable sent by Majeed Khan from Washington, based on his meeting with senior State Department official Donald Lu about the political situation of Pakistan.

The cable landed in Pakistan when a no-confidence resolution had been moved against then-Prime Minister Imran Khan.

About a week before the scheduled voting in the National Assembly, Imran Khan displayed a document at a rally of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in Islamabad, that was based on the cipher and proof of a foreign conspiracy against his government.

After he was toppled through the no-confidence vote, Imran Khan used the cipher as the alleged evidence of US interference to bring a regime change in Pakistan.

In the wake of the ensuing bitter political tussle, Majeed Khan’s name emerged several times, and at times negatively, casting a shadow on his role and career.

So when the time came for the next foreign secretary, the government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had to delay it to let the dust settle.

After the change of guard in the army and the issue of the cipher losing its steam, the government finally decided to appoint him to the key post. Majeed Khan has been serving as ambassador to Belgium since April this year.

He was sent to Brussels from Washington after serving there as an ambassador for three years.

He had also served in Washington as the deputy chief of mission for four years and spent six years in New York, including as a diplomat at Pakistan’s UN Mission.

Source: Press Trust of India

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