ISLAMABAD: In a setback ahead of the Organization of Islamic Conference Foreign Ministers meeting scheduled for today ( Sunday) in Islamabad, the Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, who contracted coronavirus, won’t be able to attend the event.
The foreign secretary is under quarantine at his residence. The doctors have yet to ascertain the variant. Given the situation, the officials of the foreign secretary’s office and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were advised to get tested for Covid-19 as part of SOPs since they were in constant contact with the foreign secretary.
Sohail Mahmood was forced to drop all important meetings for which he had worked very hard.
Well-placed sources in the Foreign Office told The News that Sohail Mahmood was hectically engaged in organising the OIC FMs moot. He felt some mild symptoms earlier this week and tested positive three days ago for the novel coronavirus.
Special Secretary of the Foreign Minister’s office Raza Bashir Tarrar, a grade-22 officer, has been assigned to look after administrative arrangements in the absence of the foreign secretary for the high profile meeting.
In the absence of the foreign secretary, the sources pointed out that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has summoned 10 senior diplomats from different capitals to the foreign office headquarters to facilitate the preparations for the OIC FMs meeting.
Asim Iftikhar, spokesman of the Foreign Office, didn’t respond to a query about the ailment of Sohail Mahmood’s disease.
Mahmood will be attaining superannuation in the third quarter of the year.
He was the country’s high commissioner in India before assuming the office. He was appointed as the 30th foreign secretary in March 2019.
Meanwhile, the sources pointed out that Lieut Gen (retd) Bilal Akbar, who was scheduled to relinquish and return to Islamabad on December 10th, has been given an extension for a fortnight and is likely to return at the end of the current month.