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2022-02-05 09:04:23


The United States has approved the appointment of Masood Khan as Pakistan’s next Ambassador to Washington, putting at rest speculations that Washington might reject credentials of the former president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

The agrément for Masood’s appointment was sent to the State Department in November last year. The delay in the approval stirred speculations that the US had reservations over his credentials.

What added to the rumours was a letter written by a US Congressman that surfaced earlier this week suggesting that the Biden administration had placed a “pause” on approving Masood as the new ambassador.

The Foreign Office had denied such reports, saying “agrément [of Masood] was being processed in the US system”.

On Saturday, the foreign office confirmed that the US government had conveyed its agrément  to the appointment of Sardar Masood Khan as the Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States.

Also read: Pakistan insists US envoy’s appointment on track

“Ambassador Khan is a seasoned diplomat who has served Pakistan with distinction and honour,” Foreign office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said. The ambassador-designate would assume his new responsibilities in Washington DC in due course of time, added the spokesperson.

Masood would replace Asad Majid, the current Pakistani envoy to Washington.

Speaking about Masood, Asim Iftikhar noted that he former AJK president “is a highly accomplished diplomat with 40 years of experience in both multilateral and bilateral diplomacy”.

After his retirement, Masood became the AJK president and has been advancing Pakistan’s case for the longstanding Kashmir dispute with India. Masood has vast experience in multilateral diplomacy and has been a frequent negotiator for Pakistan.

He has served in various diplomatic positions at the Pakistan missions in Beijing, The Hague, and Washington DC. Masood during his service served as the ambassador to China as well as a permanent representative to the United Nations. He also remained a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

His appointment comes at a critical juncture when the relationship between Pakistan and the US is undergoing a transformation after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been seeking a broad-based engagement with the US covering not just security but economic and other areas but the Biden administration has yet to respond to Islamabad’s overtures.

Also read: Khan’s Beijing visit and Pak-US relations

But certain recent developments indicate that the US is not seeking complete disengagement from Pakistan. A US State Department spokesperson recently termed Pakistan as a strategic partner and denied the impression that Washington was putting pressure on Pakistan to either choose the US or China.

Despite the tense relationship, Pakistan was the number one recipient of US vaccine doses in the region. Similarly, the US has also appointed a full time ambassador to Pakistan for the first time since 2018.

But the future of relationship between the two countries is not certain since President Joe Biden has yet to speak to Prime Minister Imran Khan despite being in office for over a year. Also the deepening cooperation between India and the US is something that worries Pakistani policymakers.

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