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IRSHAD SALIM: Islamabad has appointed a General as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Riyadh, says a report in local newspaper The News. The former three-star General (retired in December) will replace a career diplomat who had been the envoy in Saudi Arabia for about two years –typically, it’s a 3-year stint as an Ambassador.
It was Raja Ali Ejaz’s first ambassadorial posting after several years of stint as a diplomat in the U.S.
The change of guard comes amid recalibration of bilateral relations and “more so the challenges,” according to a Pakistani defense analyst. “He should be a good addition and much needed for the course correction and damage control/management,” a Pakistani defense expert with several years of stay in the Middle East says.
The paper cited well-placed diplomatic sources as saying that the “sudden shuffling of ambassador for Saudi Arabia is a conspicuous development with regard to the relationship of two countries in the backdrop of lessening warmth in ties”.
“If it happens, it would clearly show that (the) GHQ wants to keep relations with the Kingdom in its own hands, a Pakistani defense expert in one of the major capitals in the region,” says.
Islamabad and Riyadh both will now be having each other’s ambassadors in their respective capitals from the armed forces, the report said.
Saudi envoy in Pakistan “Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Maliki was from the Royal Saudi Navy and retired as Rear Admiral. He was the defense attaché of Saudi mission in Islamabad and elevated as the ambassador four years ago”, the report added.
The new Pakistani envoy to Saudi General Bilal Akbar served as Chairman Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) before his retirement, and has also served as Director General of Rangers (the paramilitary force) in Sindh during the “Karachi operation” against terrorism, extremism and inter-party bloody turf wars.