India names Sharat Sabharwal as new envoy to Pakistan


New Delh : The Indian government Monday announced the appointment of Sharat Sabharwal as New Delhi’s envoy to Islamabad.

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Sabharwal, who is currently special secretary in charge of administration, consular, passport and visa affairs in the external affairs ministry, will succeed Satyabrata Pal as India’s high commissioner to Pakistan. Pal’s tenure in Islamabad ended Feb 28.

“He is expected to take up his assignment shortly,” the external affairs ministry said about Sabharwal’s new posting.

A 1975 batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, Sabharwal is no stranger to Pakistan. He served as India’s deputy high commissioner in Islamabad between 1995-1999.

A seasoned diplomat, Sabharwal has also served as India’s deputy permanent representative to Geneva and ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Sabharwal goes to Islamabad at a time when the ties between India and Pakistan have touched a new low after the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks. India suspects the involvement of Pakistani nationals in the 60-hour attack which claimed over 170 lives, including of 26 foreigners.

India has responded to Pakistan’s 30 questions in connection with the Mumbai terror attacks and is awaiting “credible action” by Islamabad against the perpetrators of the carnage.

Sabharwal’s stint in Islamabad will also coincide with extreme volatility in Pakistani politics, with a weak civilian government grappling with an increasingly assertive military, a restless civil society and a resurgent Taliban spreading its net of extremism in Pakistan.