Washington will have a full time ambassador in Islamabad for the first time in nearly four years as the US Senate has finally approved Donald Armin Blome, a career diplomat, as the American envoy to Pakistan.
The US State Department, following the Senate’s approval of Blome, said in a statement that Washington’s partnership with Islamabad was vital to progress on regional security, trade, investment, climate crisis, and human rights.
Congratulations to Donald Blome on being confirmed by the Senate as our next Ambassador to Pakistan! Partnership with Pakistan is key to progress on regional security, trade and investment, the climate crisis, and human rights. 🇺🇸 🇵🇰 pic.twitter.com/2RFgToXj2A— State_SCA (@State_SCA) March 2, 2022
Blome will be the first full-time ambassador in Pakistan since August 2018 when then American envoy David Hale returned home after completing his term.
After that, the administration of then US president Donald Trump did not appoint a full-time ambassador to Islamabad despite ties between the two countries improving because of the personal bonhomie between the former American president and Prime Minister Imran Khan. Another factor for the improvement in ties was the close cooperation between the two countries on the Afghan endgame.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan, congratulated Blome on his confirmation, saying: “We look forward to working closely with him in further strengthening Pak-US partnership.”
The approval of Blome, the current US ambassador to Tunisia, as the top US diplomat to Pakistan suggests a positive development in the context of Washington-Islamabad ties, which have often been marred by mistrust.
The US exit from Afghanistan has also raised serious questions about the future of ties between the two countries. One of the top American diplomats had recently said the US did not see itself building a broad-based relationship with Pakistan.
Against this backdrop, the naming of a new US ambassador is seen as significant.
The absence of a full-time ambassador was seen as an effort by the US to downgrade ties with Pakistan.
The approval of Blome as ambassador may have suggested a shift but ties between the two countries are facing multiple challenges.
The latest challenge is the Ukraine-Russian crisis that puts Pakistan and the US at odds with each other.
The US wanted Pakistan to take a clear stance against Russia and even advised Islamabad not to go ahead with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Moscow. However, Pakistan has so far resisted the pressure and is treading a careful path.
It is believed that Pakistan faced tremendous pressure from the US to vote against Russia on a resolution at the UN General Assembly emergency session. Pakistan, however, abstained from voting, refusing to condemn the Russian military action against Ukraine.
According to a White House statement, Blome, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is currently the US Ambassador to Tunisia.
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Prior to that, Blome was chargé d’affaires at the Libya External Office in Tunisia, consul general at the American consulate in Jerusalem, and director of the Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs at the US Department of State.
He has also served as political counselor at the American embassy in Kabul and minister-counselor for economic and political affairs at the US embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Earlier in his career Blome served as the civilian co-director of the Multinational Force Strategic Engagement Cell in Baghdad, political counselor at the Embassy in Kuwait, Israel desk officer and deputy director and acting director at the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs.
Blome earned a BA and a JD from the University of Michigan and speaks Arabic.
In October 2021, the United States announced that Pakistan would have a full-time ambassador as President Joe Biden named Donald Armin Blome, as the country’s new envoy to Islamabad.
The appointment of Blome to Pakistan suggests a positive development in the context of Pakistan-US ties that has often been marred by mistrust.
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