WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s ambassador-designate to the US Ali Jahangir Siddiqui arrives in Washington on May 28 and will take charge of his new assignment on May 29, two days before the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government completes its term.
After taking charge from the outgoing ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, his first assignment will be to submit his credentials at the US State Department along with a letter, stating that Mr Chaudhary has been recalled to Islamabad. The State Department has already approved his agrément.
Mr Siddiqui can resume his official duties after submitting the documents, but he cannot call cabinet-level officials until he presents his credentials to the US president, which often takes months.
The Pakistan embassy, however, will try to get an early appointment for him at the State Department to ensure that he submits his credentials before completion of the PML-N government’s tenure.
Diplomatic sources in Washington say that Mr Siddiqui can continue as ambassador under the interim government as well, but the government elected in the July 25 elections can recall him.
The PML-N government designated as an ambassador Mr Siddiqui — an investment banker and a special assistant to the prime minister — in March but the State Department returned his agrément early this month.
In August last year, Mr Siddiqui was appointed the prime minister’s special assistant with the status of a state minister.
He is the son of renowned businessman and banker Jahangir Siddiqui and served as the chairman of JS Bank and JS Private Equity before joining the government. Mr Siddiqui holds a BA in economics from the Cornell University.
Mr Chaudhry — a foreign service official — retired last month and the government did not give him an extension. He will leave for Islamabad on June 5.
Relations between the United States and Pakistan are at their lowest ebb and this posting will test all the manoeuvring skills the young ambassador may have learned as a banker and at university.
Earlier this week, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a congressional committee that US officials in Pakistan were treated badly. And the Trump administration imposed strict travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in Washington this month.
Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2018