Biden inducts another Pakistani American into his team

Published January 17, 2021
Pakistani American Salman Ahmed, who served as head of strategic planning in the Obama National Security Council, is joining the US State Department as director policy planning. — Photo courtesy Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website
Pakistani American Salman Ahmed, who served as head of strategic planning in the Obama National Security Council, is joining the US State Department as director policy planning. — Photo courtesy Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website

WASHINGTON: US President-elect Joe Biden has inducted a second Pakistani American, Salman Ahmed, into his foreign policy team, said a statement issued on Friday.

Mr Ahmed, who served as head of strategic planning in the Obama National Security Council, is joining the US State Department as director policy planning.

Last month, Mr Biden announced that another Pakistani American, Ali Zaidi, will join his team as Deputy National Climate Adviser.

Mr Ahmed was chief of staff of the US Mission to the United Nations and senior policy adviser to the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Before joining the Department of State in 2009, Mr Ahmed served as a visiting professor and research scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and worked for almost fifteen years at the United Nations, including posts as chief of staff for the Head of UN Peacekeeping Operations.

Mr Ahmed holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor of Science in economics from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Mr Zaidi will work directly under former Secretary of State John Kerry who has been appointed Mr Biden’s special envoy for climate.

Mr Zaidi played a key role in drafting and implementing the Obama administration’s climate action plan and helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement.

Mr Biden has also inducted two women from the Indian-occupied Kashmir into his team. Sameera Fazili, an American of Kashmiri origin, has been appointed the deputy director of the National Economic Council (NEC). In December 2020, another Kashmir-born woman, Aisha Shah, was inducted into Biden’s team as partnership manager of the White House Digital Strategy team.

Uzra Zeya, another Indian Muslim, has been appointed Undersecretary of State for arms control, democracy and human rights.

The US media pointed out that Mr Biden has “filled out his State Department team with former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signaling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump.”

“This diverse and accomplished team … embodies my core belief that America is strongest when it works with our allies,” Mr Biden said in a statement. “Collectively, they have secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — and I am confident that they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership.”

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2021

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