In a major reshuffle of diplomats, Pakistan on Monday removed Maleeha Lodhi and appointed Munir Akram as the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
The development came merely a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from the US, where he raised the Kashmir issue in his maiden address to the UN General Assembly last week.
“Ambassador Munir Akram has been appointed as the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York, in place of Dr Maleeha Lodhi,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
However, it gave no reason for her removal.
Maleeha’s removal comes on the heels of Pakistan experiencing yet another defeat to internationalise the Kashmir issue and this time it was at UNGA.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday raised the Kashmir issue in his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and demanded that India lift the “inhuman curfew” in Kashmir and release all “political prisoners”.
Khan repeated his war rhetoric saying that if there was a face-off between two nuclear-armed neighbours, the consequences would be far beyond their borders.
Giving his scenario for war, Imran Khan said that when the “curfew” is lifted in Kashmir there will be a bloodbath.
Khan further used the forum of the UN General Assembly to openly appeal to the global Muslim sentiment on the issue of Kashmir.
In an openly radical Islamist statement, Imran Khan, who exceeded the talk time allocated to him by a fair margin, said that the Muslims in India, which has the second largest population of Muslims in the world, would get radicalised watching the Kashmiris.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of India’s achievements and its inspiration to the world for development and the possibilities of the future, with just one mention of the world uniting against terror.
PM Modi had said India is a country, that has “given the world, not war, but Buddha’s message of peace.”
Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue after India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, but New Delhi has asserted the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”.
The Foreign Office statement said Akram would be stationed at the UN’s New York headquarters.
He is an experienced hand who served as the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN from 2002 to 2008.
He was dismissed by the then president Asif Ali Zardari over his disagreement in presenting the case of assassination of Benazir Bhutto to the United Nations.
Akram had also courted controversy after he was accused of domestic violence by his partner, Marijana Mihic, in December 2002 while serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN. The case was reportedly settled out of the court and he was not charged with the crime due to his diplomatic immunity.
Akram specialises in multilateral diplomacy with considerable experience over the years at the UN’s New York and Geneva chapters. He studied at the Karachi University and graduated with a Masters degree in Political Science and a Bachelors in Law, the statement said.
Among other transfers approved by the prime minister include the appointment of Khalil Ahmad Hashmi, presently serving as Director General (UN) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva.
Besides, Muhammad Aejaz, Additional Secretary at MoFA, has been appointed as Hungary Ambassador; Syed Sajjad Haider, serving as Charge d’ Affaires in Pyongyang, as Kuwait Ambassador; Imran Ahmad Siddiqui, serving as Consul General in Toronto, as Dhaka High Commissioner; Ahsan KK Wagan, serving as Charge d’ Affaires in Niamey, as Ambassador of Oman; and Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak as Sri Lankan High Commissioner.
Other appointments include Abdul Hamid as Consul General in Toronto and Abrar Hussain Hashmi as Consul General in Houston.
(With PTI inputs)