WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s new ambassador to the United States will formally present his credentials to President Donald Trump on Friday as relations between the two allies once again show signs of improvement, media reports have informed.
In March, Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, an investment banker was appointed by the PML-N government as Pakistan’s new ambassador to the United States, replacing former foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary.
The US government approved Siddiqui’s appointment in the first week of May and on May 29 he assumed his new position. Earlier this week, the US State Department informed the Pakistan Embassy that Siddiqui was scheduled to present his credentials to President Trump on June 22, along with seven other ambassadors.
Since governments prefer to hold the credentials ceremony for a bunch of ambassadors a new envoy often has to wait for months, particularly in major world capitals like Washington.
However, Siddiqui was fortunate that the list was almost complete when his name was added to it in the first week of June, allowing him to present his credentials just two weeks after submitting his papers.
On Friday, Siddiqui and other ambassadors will gather at the US President’s official guest house — Blair House — but will present their credentials individually, in alphabetical order. The official ceremony is held across the street, at the White House.
When Siddiqui arrived in Washington relations between the two countries were tense, but several positive developments in the last two weeks have eased the tensions.
The most obvious among them was the rare Eid ceasefire in Afghanistan, which was the result of all players — the Afghan government, Taliban, the United States and Pakistan — cooperating together.
Although it was Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who initiated the ceasefire two weeks ago, Pakistan played a quiet but effective role in convincing the Taliban to accept the offer.
Apparently, the United States is using the military channel to communicate with Pakistan. So, no one in Washington was surprised when Pakistan’s army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa made a high-profile visit to Kabul last week to discuss the prospects of a durable peace with President Ghani.
Diplomatic sources in Washington say that Pakistan has been involved in this initiative from the very beginning, as has been the United States.
But their involvement became public knowledge only when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telephoned Gen Bajwa on June 8 to discuss the “need for political reconciliation in Afghanistan”, as a statement issued by his office said. A day later, US Vice President Mike Pence telephoned caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk and also stressed this point.