The number of US diplomats and government officials in Pakistan is reportedly going to shrink in the coming weeks, whereas the number of contractual employees is due to increase with the passage of time, according to an official.
However, the US embassy insists that the number of diplomats and officials is stable at the moment.
A Foreign Office (FO) official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Express Tribune that following the Raymond Davis and Bin Laden saga, the number of US contractual employees entering Pakistan have soared. The official added that the total number of US contractual employees in Pakistan was 638 of which 140 had left Pakistan in the post-Raymond Davis scenario.
“Pakistan is a non-family station for US officials here,” said the official. Currently, the total number of declared US embassy staff is 749, whereas there are in fact approximately 1,400 plus employees working in Pakistan on various assignments. The official claimed that the additional number of employees were not registered anywhere and the numbers were still growing.
“This new induction of people is going to be a ‘collective Raymond Davis’ which is not going to harm the country by killing a couple of people, but instead it will ensure that they cripple our society. The whole purpose of the exercise is to malign the armed forces and the agencies which are an asset to the country, but they want Pakistanis to believe that the military and intelligence agencies are a liability and for that matter they are slowly developing that mindset,” said the official.
Meanwhile, US Embassy spokesperson Alberto Rodriguez told The Express Tribune that Raymond Davis was an employee of the government and the embassy endorses that statement. Rodriguez said that the number of diplomats and officials is stable at the moment and the number of other employees that come on assignment varies from time to time. “The number of positions, postings, and reasons for why they are coming on special assignments is all verified before they even enter Pakistan,” said Rodriguez. He added that if the government has issues with the number of such people coming into the country then they should simply not issue the visa. “It’s the prerogative of the government of Pakistan to issue visas and allow people to enter their country,” he added.
Sources in the FO said that US employees on special assignments do not enjoy diplomatic immunity and thus they are not registered as staff.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2011.
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