WASHINGTON: The newly-appointed Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, has sought the cooperation of Pakistani immigrants to strengthen ties between the two countries.
Siddiqui, who took the charge on May 30, has written a letter to the Pakistani immigrants living in the United States to seek their help for improving the relations between the US and Pakistan.
“There is a lot of room of improvement in the ties between US and Pakistan,” he said. “I have been entrusted to take on the challenge of fulfilling my responsibilities.”
He further remarked that the members of both the countries will work together to achieve “our common objectives”, adding that he “trusts Pakistani community for the fulfilment of responsibilities”.
Siddiqui has replaced outgoing Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, the former foreign secretary who served as Pakistan’s envoy to the US before his retirement last month.
The US Department of State took almost two months — otherwise, a routine — to send out an agreement to pave the way for the new ambassador’s appointment.
Siddiqui has to present his credentials to US President Donald Trump in the coming weeks to be fully operational to perform his duties. He has daunting challenges to surmount ahead as well, given the souring US-Pakistan ties.
Siddiqui, an investment banking expert by profession, was appointed by the federal government as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US last month. He has previously served in the capacity of special assistant to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, with the status of a state minister.
On May 11, 2018, the Trump administration imposed travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats stationed at the Embassy in Washington, confining them to a 25-mile radius and making it obligatory for them to seek permission at least five days in advance if they wish to travel beyond the imposed limits.
Pakistan, in return, also imposed similar bans.
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo told local lawmakers last week that “our State Department officials are being treated badly as well”.
“[Our people] working in the embassies, in the consulates and in other places are not being treated well by the Pakistani government either,” he claimed.
Though Pompeo called it “a real problem”, the Department of State said: “It is the responsibility of all host governments to create the conditions necessary to permit the personnel of foreign embassies to carry out their duties.”
Acknowledging the movement restrictions it had placed on Pakistani diplomats, the US State Department said: “The controls are intended to encourage Pakistan to stop [the] harassment of US Mission personnel and interference with our public activities, which have risen dramatically in recent months.”
Trump earlier this year announced that his administration intended to cut down financial assistance to Pakistan. This came after months of comments and statements against Islamabad by the US president, who, in his first televised speech late last year, said it needed to “do more”.
“With respect to Pakistan, we [have] released far fewer funds in 2018 than in the year prior. The remainder of the funds available are under review.”
“My guess is that that number will be smaller still,” Pompeo commented earlier.
Given the aforementioned issues, Ambassador Siddiqui faces a tough task in the coming months to bring to normalcy Islamabad-Washington relations and resume bilateral alliance in various fields.