Pakistan recalls Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

A government official said Rathore’s removal had been on the cards since long because he was considered politically aligned with the PTI….reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is considering recalling the countrys Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ameer Khurram Rathore, hardly a year after he was posted by former premier Imran Khan.

The process of recall has started but not finalised yet, The News reported.

Rathore was earlier posted as Pakistan’s High Commission in Canada and hardly a month after his settlement there, he was asked to get ready for posting in Riyadh.

He was flown to Saudi Arabia during Khan’s visit, which turned out to be the latter’s last one as Prime Minister.

Rathore had then not formally assumed the charge by the time.

A government official said Rathore’s removal had been on the cards since long because he was considered politically aligned with the PTI.

“He is known as (Khan’s) loyalist,” a well-placed official in the Prime Minister Office told The News.

Rathore was primarily considered close to Shah Mehmood Qureshi, former foreign minister and PTI vice chairman, and had served in a party office for a year by taking leave from the government job some years back, it has been learnt.

A think tank was set up by PTI in Lahore and Rathore served there from 2012 to 2013, The News reported.

Another official said the government got alerted about him after Khan’s revelation during an interaction with journalists a month back where he said he was in touch with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman.

How far Khan’s claim was true and whether Rathore played any role in restoring his contact with the Saudi ruler remains unverified, The News reported.

A diplomatic source was, however, dismissive that Rathore could either have that clout or risk his career by playing as a messenger between the opposition leader and the Saudi dignitary.

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said he was not aware of any special reason other than his affiliation with the PTI.

Rathore is the third consecutive ambassador in Riyadh who is being prematurely recalled. He assumed office on February 15, 2022.

His predecessor Lt Gen (R) Bilal met the same fate. And so too his predecessor, Raja Ali Ejaz, who was suspended weeks before his retirement and recalled at a short notice.

Khan had censured Ejaz during a meeting he held with him.

That decision, however, didn’t go well with the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as some retired diplomats recorded protest at this public humiliation in April 2021.

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