WASHINGTON  -  Robert Oakley, who served as US Ambassador to Pakistan from 1988 to 1991, died in McLean, Virginia, aged 83.

He was named as envoy to Islamabad to succeed Arnold Lewis Raphel, who was killed in an August 17 airplane crash alongwith President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

A career diplomat and three-time Ambassador with a reputation for shrewdness in Washington and toughness in crisis zones, Oakley's portfolio in the 1980s encompassed the Iran-Iraq War; the continued captivity of American soldiers in Lebanon; the passage of arms to the US-supported Mujahideen in Afghanistan and the Soviet departure from that country; encouraging the restoration of democracy in Pakistan after long military rule and maintaining the fragile peace between nuclear-armed archenemies Pakistan and India, The Washington Post said.

According to his wife, Phyllis Oakley, a retired Assistant Secretary of State and a former spokeswoman for Secretary of State George Shultz, complications from Parkinson's disease caused his death.

Oakley was a Princeton classmate of James Baker, later Secretary of State, and Frank Carlucci, later Secretary of Defence, and also served as a Deputy to Richard Holbrooke, who was then serving as Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs.

Oakley's Ambassadorial assignments also took him to Zaire and Somalia,and post-retirement he was also appointed as special US envoy in 1992 during the American involvement in Somalia.