Pakistan has taken responsibility of the Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for the second time. Amjad Hussain B. Sial Special Secretary at the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan has become the 13th Secretary General of SAARC after Nepal’s Arjun Bahadur Thapa’s term ended on February 28, 2017. Sial also served as the Director in the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu from 2003-2006. He previously served as Ambassador of Pakistan to Tajikistan from 2011-2014. He was also the alternate Permanent Representative at Pakistan Mission to the United Nations, New York during 2011-2014. Ambassador Sial assumed the charge of his new office on March 1, 2017 and will continue to serve for a three year period till February 28, 2020.
The nomination was made by the Council of Ministers in Pokhara (Nepal) in March 2016. Initially, India had hindered the nomination of Ambassador Sial as the Secretary General on procedural grounds. In this regard, Delhi pointed towards Article V of the MoU on the establishment of the SAARC Secretariat, which details the procedure for the appointment of the secretary general and under which the appointment has to be approved by the SAARC Council of Ministers comprising foreign ministers of the member states.