US authorities have lodged a fresh complaint against the harassment of its diplomatic, expressing concern at the ‘inaction’ over an earlier complaint lodged some two years ago.
In a letter written to the Foreign Office earlier this month, the US administration formally updated Pakistani authorities on the alleged harassment of staff from its embassy and consulates in the country. The matter is likely to be taken up when the two sides meet for talks next month.
After receiving the complaint, Pakistan’s foreign ministry sent a circular to all the provincial governments, federal interior ministry and law-enforcement agencies asking them to take immediate remedial steps.
In January 2010, the US Embassy in Pakistan had lodged a similar public complaint, saying that its diplomatic staff were being harassed and detained while traveling around the country – a rare protest amid rising concerns of America’s expanding presence.
American officials say they need to increase their staff at the embassy to help disburse $7.5 billion aid to Pakistan. However, many Pakistanis harbouring anti-US sentiments allege America is bringing in spies. American diplomats complain of delays in approval of visas and their extensions, and also of being detained at checkpoints.
According to a press release issued on Jan 7, 2010, the US is concerned about false allegations against its personnel, who are working to forge a partnership between the two countries. It also urged Islamabad to make proper arrangements for their security.
On January 6, 2010, a US consulate general vehicle, carrying two Pakistani employees and their police escort, was stopped en route to Gwadar. The staffers were on the way to make preparations for the visit of US development assistance staff to one of Pakistan’s most impoverished regions.
The US Embassy emphasised that all its vehicles are appropriately registered with local authorities and carry all the documents attesting to their legal status. It added that the employees had also met with the police commissioner in Turbat as part of the protocol.
The US ambassador to Pakistan said that the foreign ministry is keen on providing proper arrangements to address the security concerns of diplomats. He assured that all US diplomats will comply with the Pakistani government’s procedures, but said that it had not implemented the measures agreed upon yet.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2012.