Amir did not feature in the recently-concluded series defeat to New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates, but has been recalled for the three matches in Centurion, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Seamer Mohammad Abbas has also been included, after recovering from a shoulder injury. Opener Shan Masood has effectively replaced recent Test retiree Mohammad Hafeez.
‘The best possible squad has been selected, keeping in mind the conditions of South Africa,’ said chairman of the selection committee, Inzamam-ul-Haq.
‘Three openers have been selected in the squad, where Masood has been selected after the retirement of Hafeez from Test cricket.
‘Amir makes a comeback in the team after regaining his form in the domestic cricket, giving strength to a fast bowling attack that includes four pace bowlers. Mohammad Rizwan has been included in the squad after performing consistently in domestic cricket and for Pakistan A.’
The first Test will start at SuperSport Park in Centurion on 26 December.
Squad: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain, wicketkeeper), Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Hassan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi.