Islamabad/Washington, Feb 1 (PTI) A US Congressman has urged President Joe Biden to reject Pakistan’s ambassador-designate Masood Khan’s diplomatic credentials and termed him a “bona fide terrorist sympathiser” working to undermine America’s interests in the region, saying he has encouraged young men to emulate jihadists and praised foreign terrorist organisations.
Khan, who has previously served as the “president” of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) until August last year, was nominated as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US in November.
Republican Congressman Scott Perry, in a letter to President Biden last week, expressed “grave concern” about the nomination of Khan as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.
“(Pakistan Prime Minister) Imran Khan’s nomination of a bona fide terrorist sympathiser working to undermine our interests in the region, as well as the security of our Indian allies, can only be described as a breathtaking lack of judgment at best, and a demonstration of Islamabad’s unmitigated contempt for the United States at worst,” he wrote.
“While I am encouraged that the State Department has reportedly placed a pause on approving Masood Khan as the new ambassador from Pakistan, a pause is not enough.
“I urge you to reject any diplomatic credentials presented to you by Masood Khan and reject any effort by the Government of Pakistan to install this jihadist as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States,” said the Member of Congress 10th District, Pennsylvania.
In Islamabad, the Dawn newspaper reported that the US State Department has been taking “unusually long” to accept the nomination of Khan and the “delay has triggered an impression of a pause in the process”.
The request for agrément for Masood Khan had been sent to the State Department in the second week of November, the report quoted a Pakistani diplomat as saying.
The agrément is the approval of a designated diplomat by the receiving state.
Normally, the State Department took four to six weeks to issue agrément for Pakistani ambassadors in the past, according to the report, adding that “this time they are taking unusually long”.
In his letter, US Congressman Perry further said that the ambassador-designate has praised both terrorists and foreign terrorist organisations, including Hizbul Mujahideen, in stark and unsetting terms.
“He has encouraged young men to emulate jihadists like Burhan Wani, a former commander of Hizbul Mujahideen who dedicated his life to a holy war against India,” Perry said.
He said that in 2017, Khan lashed out at the US for designating the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen for sanctions, calling those sanctions “unjustifiable”.
Perry further said that a litany of examples accompanies “Khan’s perverse attachment to Islamic terrorism, which makes it exceedingly obvious that Pakistan has embraced its identity as a super terrorist state”.
“We know, for instance, that the ambassador-designate is a supporter of the terrorist groups Jamaat-e-Islami, a group that assisted in committing genocide in the early 1970s, as well as Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a group that had no qualms establishing a partnership with the foreign terrorist organisation responsible for the brutal murder of 166 people during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks (Lashkar-e-Taiba),” Perry said.
The Dawn newspaper reported that Khan had previously served as Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva and New York, and as ambassador to China.
He was to replace the outgoing ambassador of Pakistan in Washington, Asad Majeed Khan.
The delay has happened at a time when ties between the two allies have turned increasingly frosty due to the geo-political environment. The US interest in Pakistan has waned after it pulled out of Afghanistan.
Moreover, Washington looks at ties with Pakistan from the prism of its strategic competition with China, although Islamabad has repeatedly said that it was not part of any camp politics.
People in the Foreign Office (FO) believe that the delay was because of Khan’s last position as the “president” of PoK.
FO Spokesman Asim Iftikhar did not respond to a query sent to him on this issue, the report said.
An American diplomat, who has previously worked in Pakistan and is currently in Washington, played down the situation as possibly a procedural matter, saying the delay was probably due to the State Department operating on maximum telework because of Omicron.
Moreover, he said, Khan’s credentials had been submitted at the cusp of the holiday season which was the slowest period of the entire year.
The US had at the end of October nominated Donald Blome as the new envoy to Pakistan. Islamabad has already issued his agrément, according to the report. PTI SH CPS AKJ CPS CPS
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