Islamabad’s Top Envoy to US Will Take Charge From May 29, Amid Challenges Ahead

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May 26, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — Pakistan’s ambassador-designate to the United States Ali Jahangir Siddiqui will take charge of his post on May 29, two days before the end of the current government.

Foreign Office spokesperson confirmed the latest development to DawnNewsTV on Saturday. Siddiqui left for Washington on Saturday night, Geo News reported.

Considered an investment banking expert, Siddiqui will take over from Aizaz Chaudhry – a career diplomat, who will step down on the same day. The Foreign Office has informed the Pakistan Embassy in Washington regarding Siddiqui taking charge as the country’s top envoy.

He will remain envoy during the caretaker setup for the upcoming elections (end of July) and until the installation of a new civilian government — and expected to remain in the slot for over 3 to 4 months or more.

During this time, Siddiqui is expected to attend important meetings, governmental and diplomatic parleys including with the IMF — the Washington-based multilateral lending institution has invited a number of renowned economists, academicians and former senior government officials to Washington for consultations on a future roadmap on economic challenges of Pakistan and possibility for extending another bailout package in case Islamabad made a formal request.

Related Article: IMF Holds Talks With Pakistan On Economic Issues, As Islamabad Seeks Lifeline With China Loans

As top envoy to the US, Siddiqui will be on the frontline representing Pakistan’s interests in Washington amid deteriorating relations between the two countries. On the frontburner are security issues, Afghanistan, and the country’s economy which is being affected by debt payment issues and the IMF is said to be concerned with.

There are challenges ahead. How well Mr. Siddiqui carves out opportunities for Pakistan amid these will be a challenge itself, say observers.

Considered a political appointee with no prior diplomatic stint, his appointment to the most coveted diplomatic post carrying huge challenges ahead, has not been without criticisms.

“Siddiqui has background in business and finance in the private sector, and he will add value in months ahead”, a source said on condition of anonymity.

Opposition parties accuse Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of appointing his “business partner’s son” as the top envoy to the US.

Siddiqui had earlier served Prime Minister Abbasi as a special assistant, advising the prime minister on economic and business matters.

He is the chairman of JS Bank Ltd and son of stockbroker-turned-banker Jahangir Siddiqui.

Ali Siddiqui has also been a director in Airblue — which is also connected to the prime minister’s family — Lucky Cement, Azgard Nine, and numerous other companies.

His appointment as ambassador has been challenged in various courts in Pakistan while opposition parliamentarians in both the National Assembly and the Senate have also rejected it.

Reports in the media claimed that the army chief also opposed the appointment in a recent, informal conversation with senior journalists.

Last month, the Islamabad High Court summoned a reply from Siddiqui over a case challenging his appointment as ambassador to the US.

A combined investigation team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore also interrogated him for over an hour in an alleged embezzlement case.

Earlier this month, NAB’s Karachi chapter had also appealed to the Sindh High Court to place Siddiqui’s name on the Exit Control List due to the ongoing investigation in multiple corruption cases against him.

However, Siddiqui’s lawyer had argued that NAB was not authorized to hold an inquiry into the allegations since it was the domain of the Securities and Exchange Commission Pakistan.

Last week, while hearing a petition challenging Siddiqui’s appointment as Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Justice Athar Minallah of Islamabad High Court (IHC) remarked that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has raised no objection to Siddiqui’s appointment and it did not affect the career diplomats.

The judge also observed that Siddiqui’s appointment is a policy matter not falling within the court jurisdiction.

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