ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, has refused to resume her duties following the opposition parties’ demand for immediate removal of envoys appointed on political grounds ahead of the next general elections.

Sources privy to this development told The Nation that Sherry Rehman, who is in Pakistan these days, would stay back until a caretaker government was put in place and it gave her the green signal to resume her duties in Washington.

A few days ago, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz central leader and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan demanded immediate removal of all the ambassadors appointed on political grounds, with a specific reference to the country’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hassan – both Pakistan People's Party leaders. Nisar Ali Khan was of the view that both these envoys could manipulate the overseas voters, and hence cause damage to the PML-N’s vote bank in the countries of their postings.

Sources said Sherry Rehman during her meetings with the president and prime minister had raised her apprehensions about the objections being raised on her by the opposition parties, and expressed her inability to resume her duties before getting some assurances from the caretaker prime minister.

The sources said President Asif Ali Zardari was displeased over her demeanour, but he kept quite owing to the unclear situation, as the interim prime minister or even the Election Commission of Pakistan could pass orders for her removal owing to pressure from the opposition parties.

Sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the ministry had completed the spadework to replace Sherry Rehman and Wajid Shamsul Hassan in case they got such instructions from the caretaker prime minister or the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The sources said even Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was on board and the paperwork for these replacements was complete and when some orders to the ministry were given from the competent authority, the replacements would be made forthwith. The career officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were against the political appointments for foreign missions and it was the general view among these officers that such appointments in the past had failed to yield the desired results.