WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden who has not talked yet with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan since his assumption the top most post of the United States as president in November last year has taken a major and very significant decision. He has nominated Donald Armin Blome as his top diplomat (ambassador) in Pakistan. He is currently ambassador to Tunisia.
This nomination has been made at a time when Washington is working to manage the situation in Pakistan’s neighbouring Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops. Pakistan is also playing a major role in diplomacy with its Taliban-ruled country.
His nomination and other decisions have been surfaced at the website of White House on Tuesday. Blome is a career Foreign Service diplomat with long experience in the region who once worked in the Kabul embassy, shuttered earlier this year during the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
It is pertinent to mention that there was no US ambassador in Pakistan for the last three years and Ms Angela Aggeler is acting as Charge d’Affairs to Islamabad. Furthermore, Mr. Blome had been US senior diplomat in Israel as Consul General to Jerusalem. The diplomatic sources say that his appointment as ambassador to Islamabad is evocative and suggestive and he will play an important role in streamlining the relations of Pakistan with Israel and other Middle East countries keeping in view his experience about the region .
Previously, he had been posted as Chargé d’Affaires at the Libya External Office in Tunis, Consul General at US Consulate in Jerusalem, and Director, Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs at the US Department of State. He has also served as Political Counsellor, Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and Minister-Counsellor for Economic and Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
Blome’s appointment comes three years after Ambassador David Hale completed his three-year term in Islamabad and left for Washington to take over as under-secretary of state for political affairs. He will take up his post in Islamabad after confirmation by the Senate, as US-Pakistan relations are under a bit of strain.
Blome, who is currently the US Ambassador to Tunisia, is stated to be fluent in Arabic. Blome earned a BA and a JD from the University of Michigan.
A career Foreign Service officer, Blome has long experience in the region, and he once worked in the Kabul embassy, which was shut down earlier this year during the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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.
International agencies have warned that Afghanistan is on the verge of humanitarian collapse without access to aid or foreign reserves, which remain frozen in the United States.
Pakistan’s relationship with neighboring China has also been of interest to the Biden administration, which regards Beijing as its chief international rival.
Tunisia, where Blome has worked as ambassador since 2019, is an important diplomatic outpost for the United States in North Africa, representing interests beyond the country’s borders, including in neighbouring Libya.
According to observers, Mr. Blome’s nomination follows the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which caused the collapse of the US-backed government in Kabul and forced Washington to move its diplomatic mission to Doha, Qatar.
The changes have given Pakistan a major diplomatic role in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and the United States wants Pakistan to use its influence to create space for an inclusive government in Kabul. The United States is also seeking air access to Afghanistan via Pakistan.
Pakistan appears willing to use its influence to soften the Taliban on various issues but in return it wants Washington to send immediate humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. Islamabad also urges Washington to re-establish economic ties with Kabul.
International agencies have warned that Afghanistan could face a humanitarian collapse without access to aid or foreign reserves, which remain frozen in the United States.
The US embassy in Islamabad is also expected to play a major role in limiting China’s rapidly growing political and economic influence in Pakistan. All ambassadorial positions in the US require Senate confirmation.