USCG Montreal Consul General Nina Maria Fite to be U.S. Ambassador to Angola

Posted: 2:12 am ET
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On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Nina Maria Fite to be U.S. Ambassador to Angola. The WH released the following brief bio:

Nina Maria Fite of Pennsylvania to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Angola. Ms. Fite, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1990. She is currently Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal, Canada, a position she has held since 2014. Ms. Fite is known for her leadership skills, knowledge of Angola, and strong record promoting United States trade and foreign direct investment, including as a negotiator in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She has served at seven United States Missions overseas and in senior leadership positions at the Department of State. Ms. Fite earned an M.S. at the National Defense University, an M.B.A. at Thunderbird School of Global Management and a B.Arch. at Carnegie-Mellon University. She speaks Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Hungarian.

 

Photo via USCG Lahore/FB

 

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US Consulate General Lahore Now on Ordered Departure For Non-Emergency Personnel

Domani Spero

On August 8, theState Department issued a new Travel Warning for Pakistan warning U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to that country and announcing the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan.  In addition to USCG Lahore and the embassy in Islamabad , we have consulate generals in Karachi and Peshawar.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated April 9, 2013, to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Pakistan.

On August 8, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan. The Department of State ordered this drawdown due to specific threats concerning the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.

The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. Across the country, terrorist attacks frequently occur against civilian, government, and foreign targets. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities. Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit. Terrorists and criminal groups regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom.

Protests against the United States are not uncommon and have the potential to turn violent. U.S. citizens in Pakistan are strongly advised to avoid all protests and large gatherings.

Recent Attacks

There have been many terrorist attacks in recent years targeting civilians and security personnel. On March 3, 2013, a bomb attack in a predominately Shiite area of Karachi destroyed several buildings and killed over 50 people. In January and February 2013, two bomb attacks in Quetta targeted members of the Hazara community; each killed over 80 people. On September 3, 2012, unidentified terrorists attacked a U.S. government vehicle convoy in Peshawar, injuring U.S. and Pakistani personnel. On April 24, 2012, an explosion at the Lahore Railway Station killed three people and injured at least 30.

The Governor of the Punjab province and the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs were assassinated in Islamabad in January and March 2011, respectively.   Targeted killings continue unabated in Karachi as a result of ethno-political rivalries. Targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel continue throughout the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Provinces. Suicide bomb attacks have occurred at Islamabad universities, schools, rallies, places of worship, and major marketplaces in Lahore and Peshawar.

Members of minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty in Pakistan. Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, on valid missionary visas have encountered increased scrutiny from local authorities since early 2011.

Travel Restrictions for Government Personnel

U.S. government personnel travel between the Embassy and Consulates might be restricted based on security or other reasons. Movements by U.S. government personnel assigned to the Consulates General are severely restricted, and consulate staff cannot drive personally-owned vehicles.  Embassy staff are permitted to drive personally-owned vehicles in the greater Islamabad area.

U.S. officials in Islamabad are instructed to limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations. Only a limited number of official visitors are placed in hotels, and for limited stays. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as hotels, markets, and restaurants off limits to official personnel. Official U.S. citizens are not authorized to use public transportation and are sometimes asked to restrict the use of their personal vehicles in response to security concerns.

Access to many areas of Pakistan, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, and the area adjacent to the Line of Control (LOC) in the disputed territory of Kashmir, is restricted by local government authorities for non-Pakistanis. Travel to any restricted region requires official permission from the Government of Pakistan. Failure to obtain such permission in advance can result in arrest and detention by Pakistani authorities. Due to security concerns, the U.S. government currently allows only essential travel within the FATA by U.S. officials. Travel to much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan is also restricted.

Read in full here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5926.html

No diplomatic posts in Pakistan were closed as a result of the August 4 or the August 5-10 closures.  It is not clear if this is related to the previously announced closures or if this is an altogether different threat stream.  Nina Maria Fite who succeeded Carmela Conroy assumed charge as the US Consul General in Lahore on September 20, 2011.

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More Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service

Catch up post on additional Fourth of July celebrations around the Foreign Service this year that caught our eye. The previous one we did is here: Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service Round-Up.

US Mission Mexico

Guadalajara, Jalisco: Los Vice Cónsules Nick Geisinger y Timothy J. Dunaway interpretaron el himno nacional estadounidense durante la celebración.
Click on image for more photos of the Fourth of July celebrations in our Mexican posts.

US Embassy Paris, France

Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin at the 4th of July Garden Party, Ambassador’s Residence, July 4th, 2012.  More photos via FB here.

US Embassy Nassau, The Bahamas

On Tuesday, July 3 the United States Embassy commemorated the 236th Anniversary of Independence of the United States of America by hosting a celebration in Nassau, The Bahamas aboard the U.S. Naval Ship USS ANZIO docked at Prince George Wharf.  The event was held in partnership with the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and included more than 200 of The Bahamas’ top leaders, representing the government, the business community, civil society, media, and the arts.

U.S. Charge d’Affaires John Dinkelman gives official remarks and toast at the 4th of July celebration. (Photo State Dept.)

US Embassy Dublin, Ireland

On July 4 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia celebrated American Independence Day and hosted at their Residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin the Third Irish American Flag Football Classic. Over 2,500 guests were in attendance for the Independence Day celebrations.

Photo from US Embassy Dublin/Flickr
(click on image for a slideshow)

US Consulate General Chennai, India

Photo via USCG Chennai/Flickr
Click on photo for a slideshow

US Embassy Afghanistan

U.S. Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland, the Coordinating Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement shakes hands with a Marine after he received his naturalization certificate on 29 June 2012 at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. Click on image for more photos

Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr

US Embassy Cairo, Egypt

Ambassador Patterson on the dance floor during the Fourth of July celebration.  Photo from US Embassy Egypt via FB
Click on image for a slideshow

US Mission Pakistan – Islamabad

Photo via US Embassy Islamabad website

US Mission Pakistan – USCG Lahore

Consul General Nina Maria Fite hosted U.S. Independence Day reception at her residence. She was joined by Chief Guest Senior Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, U.S. Army Attaché Colonel Kurt H. Meppen, and USAID Punjab Director Theodore Gehr, and 400 guests from various walks of life. The event included the playing of the Pakistani and U.S. national anthems and a cutting of a cake.

Photo via USCG Lahore/FB

US Embassy Rome, Italy

Visitors arriving at the Villa Taverna for the Fourth of July celebration.  Photo via US Embassy Rome/Flickr
Click on photo for a slideshow

US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

The theme of U.S. Embassy Bangkok Independence Day Celebration for this year is “The Great American Roadtrip.”

US Embassy Vientiane, Laos

Photo from Ambassador Karen Stewart’s Tumblr.
Click on image to read about it in the ambassador’s blog

US Embassy Beijing, China

Ambassador Gary Locke cutting the Fourth of July cake. Photo from US Embassy Beijing/Flickr. Click on photo for a slideshow

US Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau

Probably the most popular US mission online post for this Fourth of July, 11,000 forward and still counting. Via the WSJ:

For the July 4 commemoration of U.S. Independence, it stepped back into history to tweak the Party with its own words.  Accompanied by an exuberant image of the Stars and Stripes, its Weibo posting said:

On this day each year, joy and glory is felt by every good and honest person in this world. From the birth of this new nation, democracy and science were seeded beneath the foundations of a new liberal world… Day and night, the god of liberty shines her torchlight of freedom into the darkest corners of the earth, providing warmth for those who have suffered and reminding them there is still hope left yet.

This post quickly gained popularity and has now been forwarded more than 11,000 times.

Let’s see how long before the Chinese tigers bite.

Domani Spero

 

 

 

 

US Mission Pakistan: Ambassador Hoagland Visits Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque

On February 18, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland and U.S. Consul General in Lahore Nina Maria Fite visited the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, two of Pakistan’s most famous landmarks. The tour started at the Fort’s Alamgiri Gate, which was restored with a grant from the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), which is helping conservation of Pakistan’s national heritage. Afzal Khan, Punjab Deputy Director of Archaeology, led the tour.  According to the US Embassy in Pakistan, the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided more than $1.8 million towards 17 different cultural and archeological projects in Pakistan over the past decade. Ten of these 17 sites were in the province of Punjab.

Badshahi Mosque

Photo by Derek Brown | Click on photo to view slideshow

The Badshahi Mosque or the ‘King’s Mosque’ in Lahore was commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673. It is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world.  It is Lahore’s most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction.

The Lahore Fort also known as Shahi Qila was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 along with the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore. According to UNESCO the 21 monuments preserved within the boundaries of Lahore Fort comprise an outstanding repertory of the forms of Mughal architecture at its artistic and aesthetic height, from the reign of Akbar (1542-1605) through the reign of Shah Jahan (1627-58). “The property in general maintains the authentic layout, forms, design and substance of both complexes and the constituent layouts, elements and features associated with the Mughal artistic and aesthetic expressions of the 16th and 17th century. Maintaining authenticity of workmanship necessitates that contemporary repair and conservation work use and revive traditional techniques and materials.”

The photos of this visit were posted in the embassy’s account in Flicker and Facebook. Although generally well received online, one FB user complained about the Lahore visit in the embassy’s FB page:

Arslan Talib All traffic were blocked due to this person. at least they should not block trafic from all sides
Saturday at 12:42am
Richard Hoagland ‎@ Arslan Talib: I agree with you — we should NOT block traffic. That was not my choice. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.
Saturday at 1:03am

Nice to see Ambassador Hoagland in FB, addressing the issue within minutes with an apology.  More photos posted here in Facebook. And the photos are gorgeous! It turns out that the photos were taken by somebody familiar – Derek Brown!

[gigya src=”http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649″ width=”500″ flashvars=”offsite=true&lang=en-us&page_show_url=/photos/usembpak/sets/72157629062512556/show/&page_show_back_url=/photos/usembpak/sets/72157629062512556/&set_id=72157629062512556&jump_to=” allowFullScreen=”true” ]

The last time I posted about Derek Brown, awesome travel photographer and USAID EFM was in October 2010 when he had the Imagining the Muslim World Photo Exhibit in Washington, D.C. Photos from that exhibit was also carried by IIP and posted in several embassy websites. And now he is in Pakistan!  Oh, lucky mission!

Domani Spero

Sesame Street Diplomacy: Elmo is not in Kabul because he is in — Pakistan!

Remember in December when Sesame Street went to Kabul, we were wondering where was Elmo?  Well, it turns out, Elmo is in Pakistan.

Senator Coburn’s office had put together a Guide to the Most Wasteful and Low Priority Spending of 2011. It’s called Wastebook 2011.  Number #13 is the Remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan by the U.S. Agency for International Development for $10 Million.

US Consul General Nina Maria Fite launches Sim Sim Hamara, Pakistan's USAID funded Sesame Street | Photo from US ConGen Lahore

Here is the entry:

In 2010, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, a Pakistani arts organization, was awarded $20 million over the next four years, to create ―130 episodes of an indigenously produced Sesame Street.‖ The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the first $10 million for the project in FY 2011. The Pakistan Sesame Street would be produced in cooperation with Sesame Workshop , creators of the original Sesame Street.

According to news sources, the show will be renamed  “SimSim Humara” and set in a lively village in Pakistan with a roadside tea and snacks stall, known as a dhaba, some fancy houses with overhanging balconies along with simple dwellings, and residents hanging out on their verandas.

The only character adopted from the original Sesame Street will be the furry red monster Elmo. The rest of the puppet cast will be made up of new local characters, including a conceited welldwelling crocodile named Haseen O Jameel, a spirited adult woman, Baaji, who enjoys family time and tradition, and Baily, a hard-working donkey who longs to be a pop star.

Faizaan Peerzada, the head of the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop defended the $20 million project, saying “The idea is to prepare and inspire a child to go on the path of learning, and inspire the parents of the child to think that the child must be educated,”

Besides the television show, the grant also includes funding for the following:

  • Radio programs based on the main puppet characters
  • A dynamic website where children can interact‘ with their favorite puppet characters
  • 600 events with live puppet performances using vehicles with trained puppeteers performing shows
  • 600 events with mobile video vans displaying pre-developed puppet-based programs to children and communities
  • 9,000 small gatherings involving thirty trained District Ambassadors playing video shows using laptop computers.

The television and radio shows will include 78 shows in Urdu and 13 shows in each of the four major regional languages.

I don’t know if Senator Coburn would have objected if USAID did a remake of Jack Bauer’s 24 in Urdu. After all, Jack is apparently one of the top 20 Coolest Heroes in American Pop Culture (although suspects do not think so).

Domani Spero