Pakistan hopes that the US Department of State will approve and return the agrément over the country’s new ambassador for Washington in the next two or three weeks.
The agrément, in diplomatic parlance, is an agreement between two states to receive and facilitate members of a diplomatic mission. The Pakistan embassy in Washington submitted Masood Khan’s agrément to the State Department in November and the host government usually takes two to three months to approve the papers.
“Mr Khan’s “agrément is under process and the State Department will approve and send it back soon, perhaps in the next two to three weeks,” an embassy official said.
Earlier this week, a Republican lawmaker, Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to reject the nomination of the new Pakistani envoy, Masood Khan.
In the letter, Mr Perry also claimed that the State Department had placed a “pause” on Pakistan’s request for approving Mr Khan’s nomination.
The State Department, however, refused to get involved in the controversy. “As a matter of standard diplomatic practice, we do not comment on the status of agrément requests from foreign governments,” a State Department spokesperson said when asked to confirm or deny Mr Perry’s claim.
“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,” Mr Perry wrote.
The Pakistani embassy, however, rejected the allegations against Mr Khan as baseless, pointing out that this was “a part of the wider Indian disinformation campaign to malign Pakistan and those who represent Pakistan, by using fake news to make scandalous claims and baseless allegations”.
The official statement the embassy shared with the media pointed out that “Ambassador Masood Khan is a highly accomplished diplomat with 40 years of experience in both multilateral and bilateral diplomacy”.
Mr Khan joined the Foreign Service in 1980 and served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations and International Organisations in Geneva, to China and to the United Nations in New York before his retirement.
Mr Khan also served as the president of Azad Kashmir, a position that irked India.
The Pakistan Embassy noted that the report against Mr Khan was published in the Indian media only and the letter, although issued in the US, was distributed to Indian media outlets in New Delhi.
“Even Indian media representatives in Washington were ignored, perhaps because those who released the letter did not want them to contact American officials for clarification,” one of the officials said.
The officials also said that India launched a major campaign against Mr Khan’s nomination since it was first announced late last year.
A former Pakistani ambassador to Washington said that “a letter signed by only one congressman cannot persuade the administration to reject an ambassador’s nomination”.
Such an action, he said, “would require substantial evidence to show that Mr Khan’s appointment could hurt US interests”.