'India blocking Pak diplomat's appointment as SAARC Secy Gen'

'India blocking Pak diplomat's appointment as SAARC Secy Gen'
India is attempting to block on "procedural grounds" the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as SAARC's next secretary general, according to a media report here which has been strongly dismissed by New Delhi. "The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), beleaguered by internal rifts, is headed for more difficult days ahead as India is attempting to block on 'procedural grounds' the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as the next secretary general of the regional body," Dawn News reported.

The SAARC secretariat can, therefore, potentially remain a headless body for a long time if the stalemate prolongs and the "dispute" is not resolved soon, the report said. Reacting to the report, official sources in New Delhi 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.

The Pakistani turn, which is held by rotation, starts from March 1, 2017, and continues till February 28, 2020. Amjad Hussain Sial is a career diplomat who has been nominated by Pakistan as the 13th secretary general of SAARC, the daily said. This is the first time in SAARC's troubled history that it is moving towards a standoff over the Secretary General's appointment, the report said.

Sial had been nominated by Pakistan as the Secretary General to replace the outgoing top official of Kathmandu- based SAARC secretariat 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 Mr Thapa's successor," the report said. Pakistani officials, meanwhile, have accused India of employing "delaying tactics". They insist that concurrence had been received from all members, including India, it said.

The daily claimed that a copy of an Indian diplomatic note dated May 30, 2016 conveying its concurrence to Sial's appointment as secretary general was also shared with it. New Delhi is now unnecessarily raising issues over the appointment, the report said, citing officials. SAARC is an eight-member regional grouping that comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
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