- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Pakistani journalist who has received death threats from Islamic terrorists is widely regarded as the front-runner to serve as the next ambassador to the U.S. from the terrorist-infected and impoverished South Asian nation.

Najam Sethi, currently the caretaker chief minister of the troubled Punjab province, is the leading candidate because of “good links” to officials in the United States and “power circles” in Pakistan, the PakTribune news service reported this week.

Mr. Sethi is dismissing the speculation. He insisted this week that he will return to his job as the full-time editor of a weekly political newspaper next month when a chief minister from the Pakistan Muslim League, which won the May 11 parliamentary elections, takes over as head of the provincial government.

Despite his protests, major media in Pakistan continue to report that he is the front-runner for the Washington job, abandoned this month by Ambassador Sherry Rehman, a member of the defeated Pakistan People’s Party. Ms. Rehman had held the ambassadorship for 18 months.

As a muckraking journalist, Mr. Sethi exposed government corruption and campaigned against Islamic extremism. The Taliban threatened to killed him in 2008 for a series of editorials against religious fundamentalism.

Pakistani reporters also are quoting sources who say that Tariq Fatemi, a foreign policy adviser to the Pakistan Muslim League, is a long-shot contender for the ambassadorship.

Also in Pakistan, U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson met Friday with Nawaz Sharif, the incoming prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League.

He assured Mr. Sharif of U.S. support for the new government, and both men expressed hopes for better bilateral ties.

Mr. Olson also stopped by a Lahore hospital to visit Imran Khan, leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaf political party and a losing candidate for prime minister. Mr. Khan is being treated for head and back injuries suffered in a fall from a platform during a campaign rally.


You know that the “reset” button is broken when a junior Russian diplomat dismisses prospects for better relations with the United States as his boss is meeting with the U.S. secretary of state.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday told reporters in Moscow that Russia sees no prospects for dramatic improvements in bilateral ties with the United States.

“We know the position of our U.S. partners perfectly, and we present out position thoroughly,” he said on Voice of Russia radio.

He also noted that trade with the U.S. is “ridiculously low,” with about $42 billion in bilateral business as recently as 2011. The U.S. is not even one of Russia’s top five trading partners, Mr. Ryabkov added.

As the deputy foreign minister was speaking in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John F. Kerry were meeting in Paris to discuss efforts to end Syria’s two-year-old civil war.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.



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