A longtime US diplomat and expert on Pakistan is under investigation in connection with a counterintelligence probe, according to a US media report.
Robin Raphel, the diplomat, was once assistant secretary of state for South Asia and Central Asia, top US official dealing with India, Pakistan and the rest of the sub-continent.
She had also served in India.
Raphael retired in 2005 but was re-employed at the state department in 2009 as senior Pakistan advisor to the special representatives for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
She was chiefly responsible for non-military aid to Pakistan — grants and aid.
The Washington Post, which first reported the investigation, said her security clearance had been withdrawn and her contract with state was allowed to expire this week.
Her home and office were searched by the FBI last month. They carried away bags and boxes, but it was not clear what was in them. Post had no other details about the investigation.
Raphel, 67, has not been charged yet. And the Post said it could not ascertain if she was being investigated for activities related to her last job responsibility, Pakistan.
A spokesperson for Raphel confirmed to the Post the veteran diplomat was being investigated but said she had not been told the “scope or nature or that she is the target”.
State department spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed the investigation. “I can say that we are aware of this law enforcement matter. The State Department has been cooperating with our law enforcement colleagues on this matter. I can also confirm that Ms Raphel’s appointment expired and she is no longer a Department employee.”
When asked if the investigation could impact US diplomacy in South Asia, Psaki said, “We have a range of high-level officials who work with a range of countries and – in this region and others every single day. We don’t feel that will be impacted.”
Raphel, who was frequently seen on DC’s think-tank circuit — specially at Pakistan events, started her career in government as a CIA analyst before joining the foreign service.
She was married to Arnold Raphel, also a US diplomat, who was ambassador to Pakistan and died in a plane crash with then Pakistan dictator Zia ul-Haq.
She had been divorced from him then.
Between retiring and being rehired by state department Raphel had worked as a lobbyist for Cassidy and Associates, a DC-based government relations firms.
She represented Pakistan, Equatorial Guinea and Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government.