Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 25, 2022

Newsline: Pakistan Top Diplomat Says There’s a Bounty on His Head

Diplomatic tensions are high between old rivals India and Pakistan after a high-profile Pakistani diplomat said he received death threats from a member of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) this week. Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said in a Bloomberg interview that there’s a $240,000 reward issued by an Indian political worker to behead him. (https://www.vice.com/en/article/akepkb/bilawal-bhutto-zardari-narendra-modi-diplomacy-butcher-terrorism) The bounty is in response to his statement at the United Nations Security Council meeting last week where Bhutto-Zardari called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “butcher of Gujarat,” referring to the deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 in the Indian state, while Modi was the chief minister. The bounty was first reported on by reporters in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, which is considered the heart of Hindu nationalism. Local BJP member Manupal Bansal said he will give a reward of $240,000 to anyone “who will behead minister Bilawal Bhutto.”

Newsline: US embassy warns of potential attack in Pakistan’s capital

The United States embassy in Islamabad has warned its staff of a possible attack on Americans at a top hotel as Pakistan’s capital is already on high alert two days after a suicide bombing. The US government has obtained information that “unknown individuals are possibly plotting to attack Americans at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad sometime during the holidays”, the embassy said in a security alert on Sunday.The advisory banned US embassy staff and other nationals from visiting the popular hotel over the Christmas holiday. The US mission also urged all personnel to refrain from non-essential travel in Islamabad during the holiday season. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/25/us-warns-of-potential-attack-on-top-hotel-in-pakistans-capital) The embassy directive followed a suicide bombing in a residential area of Islamabad on Friday, which killed a police officer and wounded 10 people.

Newsline: No US ambassador to India for nearly two years

The position of US ambassador to India has been lying vacant for nearly two years due to the Senate stalling the appointment of President Joe Biden’s pick for the post — Eric Garcetti. Of 20 ambassadorial nominees who are awaiting confirmation from the Senate, Garcetti’s case has been pending the longest — 16 months, according to ThePrint’s analysis of data from the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the professional association of the US Foreign Service. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/no-us-ambassador-to-strategic-ally-india-for-nearly-2-yrs-why-senate-s-blocked-biden-pick-garcetti/) Despite Democrats gaining a slim majority in the upper house in the recently concluded US midterm elections, a former diplomat ThePrint spoke to was not optimistic about Garcetti’s nomination being confirmed. Garcetti, who was officially nominated in July 2021, has seen his nomination stalled in the Senate over allegations that he was aware but did not take action against one of his former aides accused of sexual harassment and bullying. The former LA Mayor, however, has repeatedly denied these claims. Some predict that there could be a ‘rollover’ of more Chargé d’Affaires until the end of the presidential term in 2024, given that Washington has appointed five such interim envoys to New Delhi since former US ambassador Kenneth Juster’s departure in January 2021.