Pakistan appoints diplomat Rizwan Saeed Sheikh as new US ambassador

Pakistan Foreign Office announced the appointment of Rizwan Saeed Sheikh as the new ambassador to the United States.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s envoy in France, Asim Iftikhar, has been appointed Pakistan’s additional permanent representative to the United Nations in New York.

“The Government of Pakistan has decided to appoint Additional Foreign Secretary (Middle East and SIFC) Ambassador Rizwan Saeed Sheikh as Pakistan’s new ambassador to Washington DC,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said at the weekly media briefing. “These appointments were under consideration over the last several weeks. The announcement has just been made,” the spokesperson said.

The new appointment had already been under consideration. The current ambassador, Masood Khan, had already received a three-month extension after his contract ended in March, which is also set to expire at the end of the month.

Who is Rizwan Saeed Sheikh?

Ambassador-designate Sheikh has been serving as the additional foreign secretary for the Middle East. He also oversees the Special Invest­ment Facilitation Council (SIFC) cell at the Foreign Office.

Rizwan Sheikh has over 20 years of experience, primarily in multilateral diplomacy. He previously served at the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commi­ssion and as the OIC secretary general’s spokesman. At the foreign ministry, he has served in the UN, the US, and the South Asia divisions.

Pakistan, US friction

The latest development came soon after Pakistan’s lower house of Parliament denounced a U.S. congressional resolution that called this week for an independent investigation into allegations that Pakistan’s parliamentary elections earlier this year were massively rigged.

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that called for a “full and independent” investigation into alleged irregularities in Pakistan’s election 2024.

House Resolution 901 was originally introduced in November last year by Republican Congressman Rich McCormick and co-sponsored by Democrat Congressman Daniel Kildee.

The resolution, passed with the overwhelming support of 368 members of Congress, was tabled in Congress on June 25, urging the Pakistani government to “uphold democratic and electoral institutions” and condemning any attempts to violate Pakistani people’s “human, civil, or political rights”.

Pakistan reacted strongly and denounced the resolution. Pakistani parliamentarians accused the United States of attempting to “interfere” in its internal affairs

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan regretted the resolution adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives. “The resolution clearly stems from an inadequate and erroneous understanding of the political and electoral processes of Pakistan. It is also an unsolicited interference in Pakistan’s domestic affairs,” she said.

Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khwaja Asif also criticized the resolution and suggested that the United States needed to do more to ensure transparency in its own upcoming elections later this year. “The US has no right to interfere in Pakistan’s internal matters,” he said during a TV interview.

Despite tensions and verbal accusations, a senior U.S. official assured Islamabad that the United States and Pakistan maintain a stable relationship. “Like any longstanding relationship, there’s always a little bit of friction at times,” said U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Horst while speaking at a mango party at the Pakistan Embassy on June 29 night. “But the US-Pakistan relationship is in the best place it’s been in years. We have achieved stability and a broadening of our relationship that we haven’t seen in many, many years,” she added.

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