Azizali F. Mohammad, a Pakistani economist at the International Monetary Fund, was named top public relations officer for the institution yesterday, succeeding a former American journalist, Jay H. Reid.

Mohammad will have enhanced status with the new title of director of the office of external relations. IMF officials said Mohammad would be in charge not only of the information office, which deals with the press, but would be the fund spokesman in academic and government circles as well.

In selecting Mohammad, IMF officials followed the lead of the World Bank, which recently appointed a third-world economist, Munir Benjenk of Turkey, as its chief external relations officer. Benjenk succeeded William Clark, a former British journalist.

Both international lending agencies are anxious to give third-world countries a higher profile as well as a larger role in the management of their affairs. The IMF, in particular, has been sensitive to third world-charges that it has followed narrow, anit-development policies.

Within the IMF, the debate on secessor to Reid, who retired last month as director of the information office after 32 years of service, also focused on a fund insider versus an outsider, and on the desirability of continuing someone in the post with news experience, versus some other profession. Fund managament officials decided an economist was needed who could explain the complicated role of the fund.

In the past two years, Mohammad, 51, has been on detached assignment from the fund to the Saudi Arabian monetary agency in Riydah. He joined the IMF staff as an economist in the research department in 1960. After a variety of assignments (and a two-year leave of absence 1970 to '71 to serve as economic adviser to the Pakistani Ministry of Finance), Mohammad became senior adviser in the European department in 1974.

Mohammad holds a Ph.D. degree from George Washington University, a masters in international economics from the University of Sinai, and a bachelor's degree from the University of Bombay. He is married and has four children.