The US has said that it has not taken a decision yet on the future of the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan amid reports that the crucial post created under the previous Obama administration was being scrapped. “The Secretary (of State Rex Tillerson) has not made a decision about the future of the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told PTI.
With the appreciation of the US Department of State, Acting SRAP Laurel Miller completed her detail to the Department from the Rand Corporation on June 23, she said. “The Department will maintain the Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs Offices, which currently report to the Office of the Special Representative, to address policy concerns and our bilateral relationship with these two key countries,” Nauert said in response to a question.
With respect to the broader issue of special representatives, Nauert referred to the remarks of Tillerson during his recent testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on Foreign Operations. “We have over 70 specials envoys, special representatives, special ambassadors…one of the things we want to understand is…did we actually weaken our attention to those issues, because the expertise for a lot of these areas lies within the bureaus, and now we’ve stripped it out of the bureau,” Tillerson had said during the Congressional hearing.
The office of the Special Representatives of Afghanistan and Pakistan was created by former US President Barack Obama during the first few weeks of his Administration in 2009. Late American diplomat Richard Holbrook was the first occupant to this once high-profile office, which drove the Af-Pak policy of the Obama administration.