ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday appointed banker Ali Jehangir Siddiqui as the new ambassador to the United States.

The ambassador-designate is the son of prominent businessman Jehangir Siddiqui who is the founder of JS Group.

Siddiqui – currently PM’s Special Assistant with the status of Minister of State - will replace Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry next month after confirmation from Washington. He had disassociated himself from the business when he was appointed as Special Assistant to PM in August 2017.

His official profile says Siddiqui has “impeccable record in international banking and finance management. He was Chairman JS Private Equity Management, Pakistan’s largest private equity firm, which he founded and was also the Chairman of the JS Bank.”

Siddiqui has previously served as Member of the Privatisation Commission, Member of the Private Sector Advisory Board of the Planning Commission, Member of the Sindh Board of Investment and Member of the Community Development Board of the Government of Sindh.

In an honorary capacity, Ali serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Mahvash and Jehangir Siddiqui Foundation, based in Pakistan that makes grants to education, healthcare and social enterprise sectors.

He has worked in natural disaster zones in Pakistan and has a strong personal commitment to finding new solutions to disaster response. Aside from making grants, MJSF directly provides emergency relief in humanitarian crises and implements projects in disaster zones.

In partnership with certain other institutions, MJSF established the Karachi School of Business and Leadership in Pakistan, which is a new graduate business school in collaboration with the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. In 2014, Siddiqui was a guest lecturer at National Defence University and in 2013 he was a Visiting Faculty Member of the National School of Public Policy. He lectured on energy security and related policymaking.

In 2012, he taught emerging markets entrepreneurship as an Executive-in-Residence at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

In 2014, he was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. He holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University.

Foreign office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal did not comment on Siddiqui’s appointment saying: “This is an administrative matter. I don’t have details regarding Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry.”

Other government officials said that Chaudhry’s services had not been extended by the Prime Minister as he attained the age of superannuation on February 27. “We are not sure about his future but he can still get some job if the PM wants to accommodate him. Chaudhry is seeking a two-year extension,” said one official.

Before his appointment as the ambassador in the US, Chaudhry had been performing duties as foreign secretary. He was replaced with Tehmina Janjua last year. He is a career foreign service officer with more than 36 years of bilateral and multilateral experience in the field of diplomacy.

Last year, Former Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit had written a letter to Chaudhry, terming him “the worst foreign secretary ever”.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry said the two diplomats had ‘personal grudges’ prompting Basit to write such a harsh letter to Chaudhry.

The letter written by Basit to Chaudhry, on July 5, 2017, criticised Chaudhry’s policies and predicted that he would also prove to be the worst ambassador to the US.

The letter surfaced online and the foreign ministry officials later confirmed that it was authentic. “The more I think the more I am convinced that you have been the worst Foreign Secretary ever,” he wrote in the letter.

Basit was replaced after opting for an early retirement earlier this month by Sohail Mahmood in India had allegedly had written the letter in response to Chaudhry’s farewell letter after his appointment as the ambassador to the US. The former envoy contended that Chaudhry was not made for the ‘delicate profession of diplomacy’. He cited two incidents as an example - the joint statement issued after a meeting in the Russian city of Ufa between ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in 2015, and Pakistan’s failure to get re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Basit wrote in the letter, “It is more worrisome your heart is not in the right place.” The former envoy said it was in Pakistan’s interest Chaudhry is removed from his post as the envoy to the US. Failing that, he said, Chaudhry should not be given an extension beyond his superannuation in 2018.