US okays Sardar Masood Khan’s appointment as Pakistan’s ambassador

Published February 6, 2022
Former Azad Jammu and Kashmir president Sardar Masood Khan. — Dawn/File
Former Azad Jammu and Kashmir president Sardar Masood Khan. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD / WASHINGTON: The Biden administration has accepted the appointment of Sardar Masood Khan as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar said on Saturday.

“The US government has conveyed its agrément to the appointment of Sardar Masood Khan as the ambassador of Pakistan to the United States,” he said.

Mr Iftikhar said Mr Khan would “assume his responsibilities in Washington D.C. in due course of time”.

Pakistan’s current US ambassador Asad Majeed also confirmed the development. “I can confirm that we have received the agrément,” he told Dawn, rejecting the suggestion that there was an unusual delay in the approval.

“Normally, it takes eight to ten weeks to process the papers and because of the pandemic, the system is moving slower than normal. So, there was no delay. The agrément was processed in routine,” he said.

The embassy received the agrément on Feb 5, which is observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day by Kashmiris and Pakistanis across the globe.

“The US government has conveyed its agrément to the appointment of Sardar Masood Khan as the Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States,” said an official statement of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington shared with the media.

“Ambassador Khan is a seasoned diplomat who has served Pakistan with distinction and honour. He would assume his responsibilities in Washington soon,” the statement added.

In an earlier statement, the embassy said the US government would approve and return the agrément early this month.

The agrément, in diplomatic parlance, is an agreement between two states to receive and facilitate members of a diplomatic mission. The Pakistan embassy had submitted Mr Khan’s agrément to the US State Department in November and the host government usually takes two to three months to approve the papers.

At the end of October, the United States nominated Donald Blome as the new envoy to Pakistan. Pakistan has already issued his agrément. Mr Blome is expected to assume charge by the end of March.

Earlier this week, Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to reject Mr Khan’s nomination papers. His letter stirred a controversy, mainly in the Indian media.

The Pakistani media also reported the letter and speculated on its possible consequences, but the US media totally ignored the issue.

In the letter, Mr Perry also claimed that the State Department had placed a “pause” on Pakistan’s request for approving Mr Khan’s nomination.

The State Department, however, refused to get involved in the controversy. “As a matter of standard diplomatic practice, we do not comment on the status of agrément requests from foreign governments,” a State Department spokesperson said when asked to confirm or deny Mr Perry’s claim.

The Pakistani embassy noted that this was “part of a wider Indian disinformation campaign to malign Pakistan and those who represent Pakistan by using fake news to make scandalous claims and baseless allegations”.

The embassy pointed out that the letter against the nomination, although issued in the United States, was distributed to Indian media outlets in New Delhi.

“Even Indian media representatives in Washington were ignored, perhaps because those who released the letter did not want them to contact American officials for clarification,” an embassy official said.

India launched the campaign against Mr Khan’s nomination soon after it was first announced late last year. Ambassador Masood Khan is a highly accomplished diplomat with 40 years of experience in both multilateral and bilateral diplomacy.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1980 and served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations and International Organisations in Geneva, to China and to the United Nations in New York before his retirement. Mr Khan also served as the president of Azad Kashmir, a position that irked India.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2022

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