Islamabad, Mar 8 (ANI): The wife of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's close friend has got a lucrative diplomatic posting abroad.
Observers alleged that Shehnaz Mazhar had won the position - a community welfare attaché in London - on political grounds.
Shehnaz is the wife of Pir Mazharul Haq, a senior minister in the Sindh cabinet and a close aide of Zardari.
"This is not a new appointment. It was made a couple of months ago," The Dawn quoted Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit, as saying.
Basit also dismissed allegations that she was a political appointee, saying the government must have observed the merit criteria before appointing her to such an important post.
The job of a community welfare attaché is to look after the community affairs and help individuals resolve their problems.
"This is an important post. And the person holding this post is mandated to promote Pak-UK relations by mobilising the Pakistani community over there," the Foreign Office spokesman said.
Ahsan Iqbal, the PML-Nawaz information secretary, termed the appointment of Shehnaz a clear violation of merit.
According to him, any appointment on political grounds was a violation of the Charter of Democracy, signed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in 2006.
The government had earlier appointed a daughter of Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim to another high-profile diplomatic post abroad.
According to a Foreign Office official, Maleeha Makhdoom has already assumed the charge of first secretary in the Pakistan Embassy in Ireland.
A former senior official of the Pakistan High Commission in the United Kingdom claimed that Mehnaz had been living in the UK for quite some time. He added that at some stage she even tried to get political asylum. (ANI)