WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Masood Khan visited the White House on Saturday to meet President Joe Biden to honor the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“It was an honor to meet President Biden at the Oval office,” the ambassador said in a tweet released after the meeting. This strengthened “the resolve to further strengthen Pakistan-US ties,” he added.
Ambassador Masood Khan previously met President Biden on June 15 at the White House — an established tradition in Washington for newly appointed envoys.
According to the press release issued by the Pakistan embassy, during the ceremony, President Biden and Ambassador Khan had a brief conversation on building a strong basis for moving the US-Pakistan ties forward.
Forty-six other ambassadors were also present to have an official photograph with the president one by one. They too had not been able to call on President Biden for more than a year because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Ambassador Khan was sent to Washington on March 25, when the PTI government was still in power, but after former prime minister Imran Khan’s ouster on April 11, there was speculation that the change in Islamabad would also impact diplomatic appointments.
Later, Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram, 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 was asked to do so.
The White House’s endorsement of Ambassador Khan’s appointment comes despite a strong opposition from the Indian lobby in Washington who did not want a Kashmiri to represent Pakistan in the US capital.
The Indian lobby feared that it would strengthen the Kashmir cause and launched a major campaign to convince the Biden administration not to accept Ambassador Khan’s credentials. They persuaded the US lawmakers to write letters to various US officials, urging them to ask Islamabad to send another envoy. But their pleas were ignored.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2022