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Improving ties with India to be key challenge for new Pak foreign secy

Pakistan’s first woman foreign secretary, Tehmina Janjua, will have to grapple with the challenges of improving ties with India and remaining on the right side of the Trump administration.

world Updated: Feb 14, 2017 20:57 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,new foreign secretary,Tehmina Janjua
Tehmina Janjua was appointed as Pakistan's first woman foreign secretary. (PTI File)

Pakistan’s foreign secretary-designate Tehmina Janjua will soon be face to face with two key challenges – putting ties with India on an even keel and ensuring Islamabad is on the right side of the Trump administration.

Janjua, who will be the first woman to hold the post, will assume office in the first week of March, according to a statement from the foreign ministry. She is currently Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva.

Officials said Janjua’s vast experience in multilateral diplomacy will help her in raising the issue of Kashmir at different platforms. She will also have to play a key role in easing tensions with India, triggered by a string of terror attacks last year, and nudging the two sides back towards peace talks.

The other challenge, the officials said, is ensuring Islamabad’s foreign policy is on the right side of the Trump administration, which has hinted at possibly extending a controversial visa ban to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s envoy to India, Abdul Basit, was once considered the front runner for the job but Foreign Office insiders said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chose Janjua because of her experience at the UN and other international bodies.

Sharif had earlier approved her posting in Geneva in 2015. During 2005-09, she was the deputy permanent representative in Geneva and also served as counsellor during 1996-2000.

Hailing from a Pashtun family, Janjua is a career diplomat with 32 years of experience. She has master’s degrees from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and Columbia University in New York.

After joining the foreign service in 1984, Janjua went on to serve in the offices of the foreign secretary’s and the National Security Adviser. During 2009-11, she served as director-general (strategic planning) in the foreign secretary’s office and also did a stint as the spokesperson of the foreign ministry.

Observers said Janjua’s experience has mainly been in multilateral diplomacy with her only bilateral posting as the envoy to Rome. Janjua has also not served on a major territorial desk at the headquarters in ISlamabad, except for a year-long stint on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe desk at the start of her career.

First Published: Feb 14, 2017 19:57 IST