- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 1999

Stuck on Lodhi again

Maleeha Lodhi has returned to Washington, D.C., as Pakistan’s new ambassador under curious circumstances.
She first served as ambassador here from 1993 to 1997 under Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who is widely regarded abroad as a progressive politician, but at home is accused of corruption.
Mrs. Lodhi was more than just an ambassador under Mrs. Bhutto. They were friends and political allies. Now, Mrs. Bhutto lives in exile in London and her husband in a prison in Pakistan.
Mrs. Lodhi returned Friday representing the military regime that overthrew Nawaz Sharif, the democratically elected prime minister who, his enemies say, grew increasingly corrupt and authoritarian before he was ousted in October.
Mrs. Lodhi has also been the target of a relentless attack by some Pakistani immigrants here, who denounced her as unfit to serve as ambassador. They accused her of corruption and criticized her for drinking and smoking.
One of her chief defenders in Washington is Lanny Davis, once one of President Clinton’s chief scandal spinmeisters.
Mrs. Lodhi, former editor of a Pakistan daily, the News, returned to journalism after leaving Washington.
She wrote such critical articles of Mr. Sharif before his overthrow that he pressured her publishers, the Jang Group, into silencing her.
Now she is the subject of a flattering profile in the News, which called her “resolute and hard-working,” an expert on security issues, foreign policy and Pakistan’s political problems.
“She is Pakistan’s only ambassador who has been sent twice to Washington a matter of honor for the Jang Group of Publishers and a befitting acknowledgment of her immense capabilities.”
Mrs. Lodhi on Friday presented a copy of her diplomatic credentials to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, which allows her to function as ambassador until she can present the documents to President Clinton.
Her visit to the State Department ended speculation that the United States would refuse to recognize Pakistan’s military government. Washington has repeatedly urged Pakistan’s ruler, Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, to restore a democratic government.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Bhutto accuses Gen. Musharraf of continuing to persecute her, using “politically motivated” corruption charges.
In an interview from London, she told an Indian news agency that “some of the people around [Gen. Musharraf] are very keen to use corruption as a convenient tool for the aggrandizement of power.”

Words of peace

A retired American diplomat sent as an envoy to help solve a dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras believes there is a desire to avoid a new war in Central America.
“I have encountered the will to defend Nicaragua’s rights through peaceful means,” said Luigi Einaudi, who is representing the Organization of American States. “I believe we will be able to facilitate a dialogue and avoid the possibility of conflicts.”
Mr. Einaudi, a former U.S. ambassador to the OAS, talked to Nicaraguan leaders last week about their dispute with Honduras over fishing rights.
He said Nicaraguan and Honduras are moving “in the direction of a judicial resolution, a solution 1,000 times better than spilling blood.”
The dispute erupted earlier this month when Honduras recognized Colombia’s right to 50,000 square miles of Atlantic coastal water that is also claimed by Nicaragua.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who meets President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore this week. He also plans talks at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
David Trimble, first minister of Northern Ireland, who meets President Clinton to brief him on the progress in the Northern Ireland peace process.
Abu Sayeed, information minister of Bangladesh, who meets State Department officials and representatives of the Voice of America.
Boris Gershunsky, a political-science professor at the American University in Moscow, who discusses U.S.-Russian relations at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies.

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