The Foreign Office is set to witness wide-scale transfers and postings in the highest echelons in the coming weeks. A new foreign secretary may be announced as the incumbent Sohail Mahmood is set to retire in three months. Traditionally, a replacement is decided a month or two in advance so that some overlapping could be ensured between the outgoing and incoming secretaries. Two special secretaries and most of additional foreign secretaries serving at the Foreign Office are also set to be posted abroad. Special Secretary Khalid Memon, who was posted as ambassador to Poland nine months ago but has not joined his assignment, is reportedly endeavouring to instead be appointed as Ambassador to France. Special Secretary Policy Planning, Raza Tarar may be posted as envoy to Japan unless he is asked to stay on as Mahmood’s replacement. As for several additional foreign secretaries and director generals, including Faisal Tirmzi, Ali Javed, Israr Hussain, Aisha Farooqi, Aamer Aftab and Mudassir Tipu, who have been waiting to be posted as ambassadors for the last three years, the available ambassadorial stations include Italy, Turkey, the UAE, Ireland, OIC Jeddah, Hungary and Serbia. A cut-throat competition amongst them to get the best possible station is ongoing. Reportedly, a posting plan was submitted to the foreign minister recently but he took exception to a lack of an objective criteria and made some revisions. Speculations are rife about Ambassador in Turkey Syrus Qazi being appointed as new foreign secretary. The Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP) cadre has twelve grade 22 diplomats presently. Ambassador Qazi is not one of them and is at number 15 on the seniority list as a grade 21 diplomat. Given that the High-Powered Selection Board (HPSB) only took place a week ago and the next one may take place after six months,he may not be a viable candidate. As per sources, the main contenders for the foreign secretary’s post presently include the most senior diplomat Jauhar Saleem, who’s from 13th CTP, and Raza Bashir Tarar, the Special Secretary,from 15thCTP. Ambassador Saleem, who is set to return to Islamabad from Rome, has been educated at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Johns Hopkins and Georgetown. He has been ambassador since 2008 to Bosnia & Croatia, Bahrain, Germany and Italy. As Additional Foreign Secretary (Administration) from 2014-2016, he is widely credited with bringing back merit in appointments, postings and transfers. With all round experience of bilateral, multilateral, administrative and protocol matters, Saleem is seen as a suave and sagacious diplomat with the ability to help the new leadership make the Foreign Office a dynamic, forward looking institution. Ambassador Tarar, an old Aitchisonian, has been envoy to Kenya and Canada. He also has rich experience of both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, as well as administration. He is known as someone who can speak his mind and is a go-getter and could be a vast improvement over the docile and indecisive incumbent. Sources in Foreign Office told Daily Times that Foreign Secretary Mahmood was desperately trying to manage a bonus foreign posting. He seems to have set his eyes on Turkey where he had been posted before.