Islamabad [Pakistan], March 23 (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is considering recalling Pakistan's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ameer Khurram Rathore, The News International reported. The development comes a year after he was posted there by former Pakistan PM Imran Khan who did that through the premature removal of Lt-Gen (R) Bilal Akbar.
The process of recalling Pakistan's envoy has started but has not been finalised yet, The News International reported citing a foreign office source. Earlier, Rathore was posted as Pakistan's High Commission in Canada. Hardly a month after his posting in Canada, he was asked to get ready for his posting in Riyadh and was flown to Saudi Arabia during Imran Khan's visit.
A government official said Ameer Khurram Rathore's removal had been on the cards since long as he was considered politically aligned with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). A well-placed official in Pakistan PM's office said that Rathore is "known as Imran Khan's loyalist," as per the news report.
As per the news report, Rathore was primarily considered close to Pakistan's former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and had served in a PTI office for a year by taking leave from the government job a few years back. From 2012 to 2013, Rathore served in a think tank established by PTI in Lahore. Another official said the government got alerted about Ameer Khurram Rathore after Imran Khan in an interaction with journalists in February said he was in touch with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, as per The News International report. However, how far Khan's claim was true and whether Rathore played any part in restoring his contact with the Saudi ruler remains unverified.
A diplomatic source was dismissive that Rathore could risk his career by playing a messenger between Pakistan's opposition leader and the Saudi dignitary, as per the news report. A source in the Pakistan PM's office claimed he was not aware of any special reason other than Rathore's affiliation with the PTI.
Rathore is the third consecutive ambassador in Riyadh who is being prematurely recalled. He assumed office on February 15 last year and his predecessor Lt General (R) Bilal Akbar met the same fate.
Bilal Akbar's predecessor Raja Ali Ejaz was suspended weeks before his retirement and recalled at a short notice. The PTI government had said the decision to recall Ejaz was made due to rising complaints from the Pakistani community against the embassy staff. (ANI)