New Delhi, Nov. 18: Shashank was tonight appointed the foreign secretary to succeed Kanwal Sibal who retires on November 30.
Shashank, from the 1967 IFS batch, is the senior-most secretary in the foreign ministry after Sibal and manages the ministry’s Asia-Africa-Europe unit. He will serve till the end of July next year, which means roughly eight months in the coveted post.
Shashank was actively involved in boosting Delhi’s relations with Asean, resulting in two summits.
Sibal, who has been denied an extension, may be offered an important post, either as the National Security Advisory Board convenor, replacing C.V. Ranganathan, or as an adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The foreign secretary’s post has always been important as he is the head of the service, unlike his counterparts in the administrative or police services. Several interested parties lobby for the post, either for themselves or for their candidates.
For the past few months, the post has been embroiled in controversies.
For instance, from the moment speculation gained ground that the Centre may not be averse to granting Sibal an extension, stories about his “pronounced anti-Indian” stance started doing the rounds. Some even questioned his role that led Delhi to decide against sending troops to war-torn Iraq.
The important question now is whether Sibal will be sent to the US as ambassador early next year when Lalit Mansingh completes his term.