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Monday, September 25, 2023

Donald Blome assumes charge as US envoy to Pakistan

Blome is the first US ambassador to be appointed to Pakistan after a gap of four years.

Donald Armin Blome has assumed charge as the new US ambassador to Pakistan, the country’s mission announced on Twitter on Saturday.

In a video message, the newly-appointed ambassador said that he felt honored to represent his country in the South Asian country.

“We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Pakistan. In fact, our relationship began 75 years ago, very shortly after Pakistan gained independence,” Blome said.

“We live today in a world full of challenges, and we can address those challenges most effectively by working together side by side. I look forward to deepening the connections between the Pakistani and American people, which have a rich history, and an even brighter future.”

Read more: Will Pakistan ever develop friendlier ties with US?

He also expressed his wish to explore “Pakistan, from Karachi to Lahore, Peshawar to Gilgit-Baltistan, and all the place between.”

“Today, I had my first encounter with Pakistan’s historic jingle trucks and learned about the art and the artists who have made this such a distinct and characteristic art form in Pakistan. This is riding in style,” he said.

Blome will be the first full-time ambassador to Pakistan since August 2018, when American envoy David Hale returned home after completing his term.

During former premier Imran Khan’s tenure, the US president did not appoint an ambassador to Pakistan.

The US Senate approved the new ambassador’s appointment in March of this year. Blome has long experience in the Middle East region and speaks Arabic.

Earlier in his career, Blome served as the Civilian Co-Director, Multinational Force Strategic Engagement Cell, Baghdad, Political Counsellor, Embassy Kuwait, and as Israel Desk Officer, Deputy Director, and Acting Director, Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs.

His appointment to Pakistan comes at a time when the two sides are seeking a reset in their troubled relationship.

Following the US’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Washington no longer sees itself building a “broad-based relationship” with Pakistan.

Read more: Did Pakistani students in USA refuse lectures by Bilawal Bhutto?

“We [US] don’t see ourselves building our broad relationship with Pakistan and we have no interest in returning to the days of a hyphenated India, Pakistan,” Sherman said during her visit to India in October last year.

Moreover, US President Joe Biden’s administration never called former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who gave critical statements on Washington’s Afghan policy.

Later, the controversy surrounding the diplomatic cable Imran Khan presented as evidence of the US plot against his government further deepened tensions.

Imran said the US punished him for pursuing an “independent foreign policy” following his visit to Russia, which coincided with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more: New US envoy Donald Blome to arrive in Pakistan on May 23

The appointment comes after PM Imran Khan’s ouster, raising speculation regarding Washington’s role in yet another regime change in the world.