Ex-US Ambassador to Pak pleads guilty
WASHINGTON: Richard Olson, a former US Ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, has pleaded guilty to undisclosed lobbying for Qatar while still in service and soon after his retirement, a media report said citing court records. He is also accused of accepting a lavish trip to Qatar while still serving as the US envoy to Pakistan, said the Dawn news report.
“I wish to plead guilty to the offences charged, to waive trial in the Central District of California, and to dispose of the case in the District of Columbia in which I am present,” he wrote in a consent letter submitted by his lawyer. Olson, who has also served as US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was charged in the federal court over violation of a restriction on lobbying for a foreign country while in service and within a year after retirement, Dawn reported.
Olson has been awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award and the Secretary of Defence Exceptional Civilian Service Award, and is a three times recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award. He lived in Virginia after his retirement and was a regular on South Asian affairs at Washington’s think tanks where he often appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to contain terrorism. Former US President Barack Obama sent Olson to Pakistan in 2012 when the then Ambassador, Cameron Munter, resigned after the 2011 raid in Abbottabad that led to the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.
Munter was apparently not consulted before the raid but strained relations with Pakistan as Islamabad was informed about it later. Olson presented his credentials to the President Asif Ali Zardari on October 31, 2012, and served in Pakistan till October 27, 2015. The charges against Olson include courting foreign work while in office and using his political influence to advance Qatari interests in Washington after his retirement, Dawn reported. The US Justice Department has also charged him with making false statements in ethics paperwork and violating laws restricting foreign lobbying by former federal officials, both misdemeanors.