‘US, Pakistan relationship is in the best place it’s been in years’: State Dept official

By Syed Talat Shah (X formerly Twitter @TalatLive)

United States Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Horst Friday praised Masood Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, for his services towards building “bridges between Islamabad and Washington”. “On behalf of the State Department, I just want to note that the US-Pakistan relationship is in the best place it’s been in years, in part, in large part to what Ambassador Masood Khan has done to represent Pakistan, to build bridges between Islamabad and Washington,” said Horst at a farewell dinner. The event was organised to honour the services of Khan with officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense in attendance. On behalf of the State Department, the US official acknowledged that the ties between the two countries, like any longstanding relationship, have experienced friction at times, but “because of you, we know how we can talk through this and we have a framework to talk through friction”, she added. After serving two years as Pakistan’s top representative in the US from February 2022, Khan is set to leave one of the most coveted diplomatic posts next week on Monday with his deputy to perform envoy duties following his departure from Washington. The seasoned diplomat was nominated for the post by then-prime minister Imran Khan in November 2021. Additional Foreign Secretary (Middle East and SIFC) Ambassador Rizwan Saeed Sheikh has now been appointed as envoy to the United States. In her praise for Khan and his role in strengthening the ties between Pakistan and the US, the State Department official said that both countries have achieved stability and a broadening of relationship that they haven’t seen in many many years. “We have had new dialogues opened. We have looked for new areas of trade,” she said, adding that both nations have looked for ways in which they can cooperate on things like health and energy and climate, things that we have not been talked about for a long time. “And all of that is because you, Masood, have been an extraordinary representative of the Pakistani people and the Pakistani government. You have been a person of integrity, You have brought creativity and hospitality. “You have used your dining room table for delicious lunches for everybody in the government of the United States as well as Capitol Hill. You have been incredibly effective. And we have this relationship now because of the efforts that you have made.” Horst, appreciating the ambassador’s contributions, told Khan that while he is leaving, the relationship between Pakistan and the US is better than when he arrived and “as strong as it’s been in a long time”. “I think we are all going to benefit from the two years that you put in here. I want to thank you personally and from the State Department,” she concluded.