ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday said the US government has approved the nomination of Sardar Masood Khan as its Ambassador to Washington, days after a prominent US Congressman urged President Joe Biden to reject his diplomatic credentials and termed him a "bona fide terrorist sympathiser."
Khan, who has previously served as the 'president' of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) until August last year, was nominated as Pakistan's ambassador to the US in November.
The US government has conveyed its agreement to the appointment of Sardar Masood Khan as the Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States.
"He would assume his responsibilities in Washington DC in due course of time," Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement, adding that Khan was a seasoned diplomat who had served Pakistan with distinction and honour.
The agreement is the approval of a designated diplomat by the receiving state. Khan had previously served as Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva and New York and as ambassador to China. He will be replacing the outgoing ambassador of Pakistan in Washington Asad Majeed Khan.
Republican Congressman Scott Perry, in a letter to President Biden last week, expressed "grave concern" about the nomination of Khan as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.
"(Pakistan Prime Minister) Imran Khan's nomination of a bona fide terrorist sympathiser working to undermine our interests in the region, as well as the security of our Indian allies, can only be described as a breathtaking lack of judgment at best, and a demonstration of Islamabad's unmitigated contempt for the United States at worst," he wrote.
"While I am encouraged that the State Department has reportedly placed a pause on approving Masood Khan as the new ambassador from Pakistan, a pause is not enough. I urge you to reject any diplomatic credentials presented to you by Masood Khan and reject any effort by the Government of Pakistan to install this jihadist as Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States," said the Member of Congress 10th District, Pennsylvania.
In the letter, Perry also claimed that the State Department had placed a 'pause' on Pakistan's request for approving Khan's nomination.
The Dawn newspaper earlier reported that the US State Department has been taking "unusually long" to accept the nomination of Khan and the delay has triggered an impression of a pause in the process. The request for agreement for Khan had been sent to the State Department in the second week of November, the report quoted a Pakistani diplomat as saying.
Normally, the State Department took four to six weeks to issue agrément for Pakistani ambassadors in the past, a former Pakistani foreign secretary said. "This time they are taking unusually long," another diplomat said.
The delay in the appointment comes at a time when the relations between US and Pakistan have become frosty. Washington looks at ties with Pakistan from the prism of its strategic competition with China, although Islamabad has repeatedly said that it was not part of any camp politics.