ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador-designate to Pakistan Richard Olson is expected to assume charge later this month amid signs of easing of months-old tensions between the two allies.
But Olson’s final itinerary hinges on approval of his nomination by the US Senate. The US Senate is expected to approve his nomination before going on for one month’s recess starting from August 6.
Richard Olson is a career diplomat and most recently served as the coordinating director and economic affairs in Kabul. His stint in Afghanistan, according to one American diplomat, will help him understand the dynamics of this region better.
“Richard Olson does not need much time to settle down because of his experience and knowledge of this part of the world,” said the diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous.
Testifying before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, the new US envoy said the United States has a clear interest in supporting a stable, sovereign and democratic Pakistan at peace with itself and its neighbours.
“Continued engagement with Pakistan is necessary to pursue the strategic defeat of Al Qaida,” he maintained.
“Tragically, the Pakistani people have suffered greatly from the extremist violence in their country. They have lost more troops and civilians to acts of terror than any other nation,” Olson remarked.
But he also candidly admitted that the real challenge facing the US was to convince Pakistan to act against the deadliest Afghan insurgent group, the Haqqani network, which is believed to have sanctuaries in the North Waziristan Agency.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.