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Home > News > Report

Satyabrata Pal contender to replace Ronen Sen

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | January 31, 2008 18:45 IST
Last Updated: January 31, 2008 19:49 IST

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India's High Commissioner to Pakistan Satyabrata Pal, known as 'Sato Pal' amongst friends, is a top contender for the most crucial postings for an Indian diplomat -- in the India embassy in Washington DC.

Ronen Sen, India's Ambassador to US, is expected to retire in this March. According to sources, he is not keeping good health and his family insisted that they should return home.

Sen, who played a central role in the conceptualisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal and also in the delicate negotiations between the two countries, will be retiring when the deal is in its climactic stages.

There is bound to be a tendency to over-interpret Sen's retirement as linked to the dynamics of the nuclear deal. Sections of the media have begun speculating that Sen's departure signifies that the deal has been put on the backburner and the government may have begun 'dismantling' the team that worked on it.

However in the opinion of a former diplomat, that is simply not the way the Indian foreign policy establishment works. He pointed out that the deal represented a fundamental policy decision and it was not to be confused with the officials executing it for the government.

He added, "Howsoever capable, influential, awesome or flamboyant an official could be, in our system, in the ultimate analysis, it is the political leadership that calls the shots. There should be no doubt on that score."

The deal in its present form undoubtedly represents convergence of the visions of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images], Sen and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan.

Already, the grapevine in Delhi has begun bearing rumours. Names of Sen's successors include those of ex-bureaucrats and senior politicians such as former foreign secretary Shyam Saran and governor of Maharashtra S M Krishna and the Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.

But there is near complete unanimity of opinion about Pal's credentials to fill the post in Washington. He is non-controversial, regarded as highly intellectual and a thorough professional.