The government on Wednesday appointed Syed Tariq Fatemi as Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Foreign Affairs in a move that may not go down well with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which has been given the portfolio of foreign ministry.
Fatemi is a retired diplomat and has long association with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). He served as SAPM from 2013 to 2017 when he was removed from office as a result of the Dawn leaks inquiry.
“The prime minister, in terms of rule 4(6) of the Rules of Business, 1973 read with serial no. 1A of Schedule V-A of the said rules, has been pleased to appoint Syed Tariq Fatemi, as special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs, with immediate effect,” reads a notification of his appointment.
The development came a day after cabinet was sworn-in ending an over week-long wait to complete the formation of the government of Shehbaz Sharif.
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PPP’s Hina Rabbani Khar took oath as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs while PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is expected to soon become the foreign minister.
The appointment of Fatemi, however, means that there may be a power struggle to control the key foreign ministry. Given Fatemi is a career diplomat and understands the working of the foreign office, he may try to exercise greater control over the ministry.
Sources in the foreign office were surprised over his appointment given that the key ministry had already been assigned to the PPP. “This means the PML-N has its man at the foreign office despite Bilawal as foreign minister and Hina as minister of state,” commented one source.
“It will certainly be a challenge for all the three to work in tandem,” the source added.
It is not clear if the decision to appoint Fatemi was taken in consultations with the PPP.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq met Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina at the foreign office to brief her on the Afghan situation.
A statement issued by the foreign office said the deputy foreign minister expressed concerns over the continued attacks targeting the Pakistani security forces from across the border.
At least seven Pakistani soldiers were martyred when terrorists from across the border targeted them in North Waziristan district on April 14. Pakistan reacted sharply to the attack and issued a strongest statement yet, saying Afghan soil was being used by terrorists against the country with impunity.
It urged the Afghan interim government to take stern action against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other groups which continued to target Pakistani security forces.
Hina said Pakistan respects the territory integrity and sovereignty of Afghanistan and underlined the need for peace and stability in the neighbouring country.
She said Pakistan would continue making efforts seeking peace and stability in Afghanistan and beyond.