WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan are involved in a diplomatic dispute that, despite the denials from both sides, could lead to strict restrictions on the movement of their diplomats, Dawn has discovered.
The Trump administration has notified the Pakistani authorities that diplomats at its embassy in Washington and at consulates in other cities will not be able to travel beyond 40 km from their posts without permission.
The notice, shared with the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington and also sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, indicates that the restrictions could be imposed as of May 1, if certain issues remain unresolved.
Both sides clarify that the decision has nothing to do with the accident when a diplomat passed the red light and killed a motorcyclist in Islamabad.
A spokesman for the Embassy of Pakistan also gave an almost identical answer, saying that until now there were no restrictions on the movement of Pakistani diplomats in the US. UU., But that the embassy had no information about future restrictions.
The issue was also raised at Tuesday’s press briefing at the State Department, where spokeswoman Heather Nauert simply said: “I have nothing for you in that.”
Dawn learned that Pakistan received notification in mid-March and since then the two sides have had several discussions on this issue, both in Islamabad and in Washington.
However, both US and Pakistani officials clarified that the warning had nothing to do with the fatal accident on Saturday when a US diplomat flashed a red light and killed a Pakistani motorcyclist.
According to this notification, diplomats must request permission at least five days before a scheduled trip outside the 25-mile radius imposed.
In their conversations with their Pakistani counterparts, US officials also point out that Islamabad has already imposed similar restrictions on US diplomats in Pakistan, who are not allowed to visit the tribal belt or Karachi.
Pakistani officials, however, argue that it is not about restrictions but about security measures designed to protect US diplomats. They point out that the State Department also does not allow its diplomats in Pakistan to visit Fata, Karachi and other places in Pakistan for security reasons.
Pakistan says that travel restrictions in places like Fata can be eliminated if Americans are satisfied with the security arrangements in those areas.
Diplomatic sources in Washington say that the US warning is linked to a larger visa dispute. Last month, Pakistan received a letter from the State Department complaining that while Americans issue two-year visas for Pakistani diplomats, US diplomats only get one-year visas, forcing them to renew their visas every year during their publications. of three years.
The State Department complained that Pakistan was also very restrictive in issuing visas to other US officials and merchants and warned that it could correspond to the measure for Pakistani officials and citizens.
The State Department maintained that Pakistanis were generally issued five-year visas to the United States, but US officials and businessmen only received single-entry visas for three months.
Recently, the United States has also submitted short-term visas to Pakistani officials. Even Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Tehmina Janjua received one month visas for their recent visits.
Pakistanis who work for international organizations, such as the World Bank, now also face delays in visas.
The information shared with Dawn shows that EE. UU It has issued around 40,000 nonimmigrant visas to Pakistanis over the past five years.
Islamabad has issued 60,000 US visas to US citizens during the same period. But more than 60 percent of those visas are US citizens of Pakistani origin who go to their homes to visit their families ….