ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday removed Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN in New York, Dr Maleeha Lodhi and appointed veteran diplomat Munir Akram as new envoy to the world body’s headquarters.
The development is seen as surprising since many, including government ministers, praised Lodhi and her team for successfully managing PM Imran’s visit to New York.
However, according to some diplomatic sources, Dr Lodhi’s ouster could also have resulted from her acrimonious working relationship with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the fact that she is considered very close to the former ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
In 1994, Dr Lodhi was appointed by then prime minister Benazir Bhutto as Pakistan’s envoy to the US, a position she retained until 1997. She was once again appointed to the same position in 1999 by military dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf until 2002 when she completed her tenure and moved on to be High Commissioner to the UK. Between 2008 and 2010, she served as a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics and the Kennedy School of Harvard University. In February 2015, Lodhi was appointed by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif to serve as Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Pakistan to the UN in New York City, making her the first woman to hold the position.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Akram, who previously served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, also indicates that Pakistan is going to launch a diplomatic offensive on Kashmir and against India.
Akram is a veteran diplomat and is one of the ambassadors who believe in hardcore approach towards India instead of appeasement.
The removal of Dr Lodhi and appointment of Akram was part of many other transfers and postings approved by the prime minister in the Foreign Ministry.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office said Akram had been appointed as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in place of Lodhi. No reason was given for the change.
In other appointments, Muhammad Aejaz, Additional Secretary (AIT) at MoFA has been appointed as Ambassador of Pakistan to Hungary, Syed Sajjad Haider, presently serving as Charge d’ Affaires (ap) of Pakistan to Pyongyang has been posted as Ambassador of Pakistan to Kuwait; Khalil Ahmad Hashmi, presently serving as Director General (UN) at MoFA has been appointed as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva.
Similarly, Imran Ahmad Siddiqui, presently serving as Consul General of Pakistan Toronto has been posted as High Commissioner of Pakistan for Dhaka, Bangladesh; Ahsan KK Wagan, presently serving as Charge d’ Affaires (ap) in Niamey, Niger has been appointed as Ambassador of Pakistan to Muscat, Oman.
Major General ® Muhammad Saad Khattak has been appointed as the High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka while Abdul Hamid has been appointed as Pakistan’s Consul General in Toronto.
Abrar Hussain Hashmi has been appointed as Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston, according to the official handout.