Multiple sources confirm to The Cable that Shamila Chaudhary from the State Department's Policy Planning Office will start this week as a new Pakistan director at the National Security Council.
Chaudhary will report to Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, who has largely taken over the Afghanistan and Pakistan portfolios at the NSC, especially since the departure of Donald Camp, another former State Department South Asia expert who left after Lute was put in charge of his issues.
Our sources see the appointment as adding some more Pakistan expertise to the team, which already includes names like Jeff Hayes, a detailee from the Office of the Director for National Intelligence who is seen as more of an Afghanistan guy, and fellow Pakistan director Eric Lebson.
Chaudhary is relatively young but is seen as a fast riser, having been appointed to the Policy Planning staff after impressing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a meeting last year. Here's how the Washington Post tells the tale:
Shamila Chaudary -- a self-described "backbencher" -- had toiled for years as a faceless expert on the Pakistan desk when one day she found herself invited to brief Clinton. Chaudary, 32, said the two sparred over whether it was prudent to engage non-governmental power centers in Pakistan, with Clinton expressing skepticism.
Chaudary held her ground, making the point that "we've been seen as not engaging with them, and it's hurt us a lot." She said that although she and Clinton "didn't necessarily agree ... she said that it's very important for us to debate like this. ... This is how she said she wants to do business."
Within 48 hours of their meeting, Chaudary was promoted to a front-line job in the office of policy planning.
Chaudhary is the latest State expert to find a home at the NSC. Senior Director Anish Goel was a science and economics officer at State before moving to the NSC and eventually being promoted to take charge of the India portfolio.
India and Af-Pak are almost completely separate bureaucratically at the NSC, our sources report, as they are at the State Department (India is particularly sensitive about being linked in tandem with Pakistan).
NSC spokesman Mike Hammer declined to comment on the move.