ISLAMABAD: Pakistani military officials on Wednesday briefly detained a visiting US hip-hop troupe, accusing a performer of taking sensitive photographs in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the embassy said.
The nine American nationals were detained by the Islamabad police for allegedly taking photographs and making video footage of the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
The six members of FEW Collective, a US officer, Pakistani staff from the embassy and Pakistani musicians were detained for around an hour on a military base in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, a spokesman told AFP.
The police claim that they approached the six US nationals when they witnessed them taking photographs of the airport while sitting in three vehicles. They subsequently deleted the pictures and footage from their cameras when the police interrogated them.
Police sources disclosed that the group did not divulge any information, and that the Americans are adamant that the US embassy should speak on their behalf.
The Chicago-based group is in Pakistan at the invitation of the US embassy and performed a concert Tuesday as part of a cultural exchange programme.
“While one of the performers may have taken a photograph while travelling in an embassy vehicle on a public road, no sensitive installations were visible from the vehicle,” said the US embassy.
“The performer was not aware of restrictions placed on photography in or near the cantonment, and had no intention of taking photographs of sensitive Pakistani government or military installations,” it added.
A report published earlier in The Express Tribune stated that foreign citizens, including diplomats, have been visiting military installations and other prohibited areas without obtaining permission from the government.
According to sources inside the interior ministry, reports issued by intelligence agencies indicate that diplomats, foreign employees of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and other foreign nationals have been visiting – and photographing – areas that non-Pakistani citizens are not permitted to enter.