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Jalil Abbas Jilani named as next Pak foreign secretary

February 15, 2012 17:54 IST

Top Pakistani diplomat Jalil Abbas Jilani, who was expelled by India in 2003 after being accused of funnelling funds to Kashmiri separatists, has been named as the next foreign secretary, official sources said on Wednesday.

Jilani, currently Pakistan's ambassador to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg, is a cousin of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The 57-year-old Jilani will replace Salman Bashir, who retires on March 3.

Bashir is expected to be posted as the new high commissioner to India, replacing Shahid Malik, whose contract has been periodically extended for the past few years, the sources told PTI.

Over the past year, Jilani has often been tipped as a contender for the post of foreign secretary. He joined the Foreign Service in 1979 and is highly regarded by his colleagues as a professional diplomat.

Besides serving as deputy high commissioner in India, Jilani has served in the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Australia and done a stint as the foreign office spokesman.

He will take over as foreign secretary at a time when Pakistan is attempting to reset its relationship with the US.

After prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered a parliamentary review of ties with the US following a cross-border NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, the government has attempted to diversify its foreign policy by forging closer ties with world powers like China and Russia and regional countries like Sri Lanka and Iran.

Jilani was the deputy high commissioner in New Delhi in 2003, when the Indian government declared him persona non grata after accusing him of funnelling funds for separatist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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