The United States will have a full-time ambassador in Pakistan for the first time in over three years as President Joe Biden on Wednesday named Donald Armin Blome, a career diplomat, as the country’s new envoy to Islamabad.
The appointment of Blome, currently serving as the US ambassador to Tunisia, as top US diplomat to Pakistan suggests a positive development in the context of Pakistan-US ties that has often been marred by mistrust.
The US exit from Afghanistan has also raised serious questions about the future direction of relations between the two countries, as one of the top American diplomats said recently that the US did not see itself building a broad-based relationship with Pakistan.
Against this backdrop, the appointment of a new ambassador is seen as significant. Importantly, this will be the first time since August 2018, when David Hale completed his three-year stint, that the US will have a full time ambassador in Islamabad.
The Trump administration did not send an ambassador to Islamabad after Hale, despite the fact that the relationship between Pakistan and the US saw an improvement after frequent interactions between former US president Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The absence of a full-time ambassador was seen as an effort by the US to downgrade its ties with Pakistan, which are considered crucial for Afghanistan and the overall regional security.
However, the appointment of Blome marks a shift in US policy towards Pakistan. This also indicates that there may be some positive movement in the relationship, following the recent contacts between the two countries.
The nomination of the new ambassador comes just days after US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited Pakistan, underlining the fact that despite differences on certain issues the US still considered Pakistan important at least in the context of Afghanistan.
A White House statement said that Blome, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counsellor, was currently the US ambassador to Tunisia. Prior to that, Ambassador Blome was Chargé d’affaires at the Libya External Office in Tunis, Tunisia, Consul General at the US Consulate in Jerusalem, and Director, Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs at the State Department.
Blome had also served as political counsellor at the US Embassy in Kabul and Minister-Counsellor for economic and political affairs at the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Earlier in his career, Blome served as the civilian co-director, Multinational Force Strategic Engagement Cell, Baghdad, Political Counsellor, at the embassy in Kuwait, and as Israel Desk officer, deputy director and acting director, Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs.
Ambassador Blome graduated from the University of Michigan and can speak Arabic. He needs Senate approval before he begins his new assignment.
Pakistani officials told The Express Tribune that the appointment of US ambassador was a welcome move, saying Islamabad always wanted broad-based ties with the US.
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