INDIA'S HIGH commissioner in South Africa, Satyabrata Pal, appears set to be the next high commissioner in Pakistan, replacing Shiv Shankar Menon, who takes charge as the foreign secretary on October 1. Pal is Menon's batchmate and has earlier served as deputy high commissioner in Britain and as deputy permanent representative to the UN.
Menon's appointment will set off what officials called "a round of musical chairs", involving transfers and high-level ambassadorial appointments that have been on hold. Islamabad is one. Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the others were Beijing, Colombo and Dhaka.
Nirupama Rao, the envoy to Sri Lanka, is moving to China to replace Nalin Surie who is due back in Delhi. He is to take charge as secretary (east) at headquarters in South Block, replacing Rajiv Sikri who has put in his papers and gone on leave.
Sikri’s wife, Veena, is also due to return to Delhi on completion of her tenure as high commissioner in Bangladesh. She is likely to take over as dean of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). The FSI post is outside the direct purview of the foreign secretary, who is her junior. The current incumbent at the FSI, Atish Sinha, is due to retire in November. Alok Prasad, high commissioner in Singapore, is likely to take over from Rao in Colombo.
Neelkantan Ravi, a Serbo-Croat speaker from the 1973 batch, is likely to become secretary (west) in the ministry, replacing Shashi Uban Tripathi from the 1970 batch.
Tripathi is likely to go on deputation outside the MEA, as senior officials traditionally do not serve under a junior. The third secretary in the MEA, Rinzing Wangdi, was being relocated as ambassador to Mexico, the MEA sources said.