WASHINGTON: Ambas­sador Masood Khan, Islam­abad’s representative in Wa­­shington, meets US Presi­dent Joe Biden on Monday evening, an appointment that will formalise his position as Pakistan’s envoy to the United States.

Ambassador Khan was sent to Washington on March 25, when the PTI government was still in power, but after Imran Khan’s ouster on April 11, there was speculation that the change in Islamabad would also impact diplomatic appointments.

But Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram, later explained that incumbent ambassadors continue to represent the country in foreign capitals unless specifically asked by the new government to return home. Neither Ambassador Khan nor Ambassador Akram were asked to do so.

On his arrival, Ambassador Khan received a letter from the chief of protocol at the US State Department, endorsing his appointment as Pakistan’s ‘working ambassador’ in Washington.

Later, on April 19, he also received a letter from the US president’s office, formally confirming his appointment.

On Monday, he is expected to visit the White House for an official photo with the US president, which will be the final endorsement of his ambassadorship.

Usually, a new ambassador is invited to the White House, along with other new envoys, to present his or her credentials. This ceremony confirms an ambassador’s appointment.

But like so many other things, the Covid-19 pandemic has also affected this tradition. Since President Biden’s age, 79, makes him particularly vulnerable to the virus, the White House tries to minimise the president’s contact with others.

Diplomatic sources in Washington told Dawn that Covid-19 has also hit the credentials ceremony.

Now, the White House processes all the documents and issues the necessary letters first and then invites an ambassador for the photo session.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2022

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