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Gen Bilal Akbar new envoy to Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: The government has appointed Lt-Gen (retd) Bilal Akbar as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, replacing Raja Ali Ejaz, a career diplomat, who was on his first ambassadorial posting and had been the envoy for about two years.

With this, Islamabad and Riyadh both will be having each other’s ambassadors in their respective capitals from the armed forces since the Saudi ambassador in Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Maliki was from the Royal Saudi Navy and retired as Rear Admiral. He was the defence attaché of Saudi mission in Islamabad and elevated as the ambassador here four years ago.

Well-placed diplomatic sources told The News here on Monday that sudden shuffling of ambassador for Saudi Arabia is a conspicuous development with regard to the relationship of two countries in the backdrop of lessening warmth in ties.

Interestingly, relations between Saudi Arabia and India have experienced a marked improvement in recent years. Indian Army Chief for the first time visited the Kingdom late last year. It is understood that General Bilal Akbar will have to bring the relationship with Saudi Arabia back on track and save the relations from further deterioration.

Diplomatic observers say some officials in Pakistan were expecting high echelon delegations from the Kingdom but no schedule has been announced on this behalf, including a high profile visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, who was believed to be visiting this month.

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