WASHINGTON: Pakistan may soon send a new envoy to Washington as the country’s current ambassador, Asad Majeed Khan, will soon complete his tenure, media reports and diplomatic sources say.
The reports say that Islamabad has already started the selection process and the 27th president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan, tops the list of candidates.
It is interesting to note that someone who as president has held the highest political office in AJK, now plans to accept the post of ambassador to Washington.
Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden also nominated a new ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Armin Blome, an expert on Middle East affairs. He is currently the US ambassador to Tunisia.
“By the time this process is complete, Ambassador Khan will be done with his tenure,” said a senior Pakistani diplomat when asked for comments. Ambassador Khan presented his credentials to former US President Donald Trump in January 2019 and will complete his three-year term in January 2022.
Ambassador Khan’s tenure coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced all diplomatic missions in Washington to limit their activities to virtual contacts.
Asked if they knew about Masood Khan’s nomination, another Pakistani diplomat said, “somebody will come but we don’t know who. Those decisions are taken in Islamabad”.
Masood Khan is a retired diplomat who twice served as Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva and New York and as ambassador to China. After retirement, he headed the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad before returning to his native AJK as president.
Diplomatic observers in Washington point out that his nomination “would send a strong signal to Washington, that Pakistan now wants to highlight the Kashmir issue”.
The observers, however, wonder if this is the right time to do so, as after Kabul’s fall to the Taliban on Aug 15, Washington has remained focused on Afghanistan.
In recent hearings in the House and the Senate, lawmakers often demanded a probe into Pakistan’s alleged role in the Taliban victory and the Biden administration did not oppose the proposal.
During their recent visits to Washington and New York, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin also focused on Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2021