ISLAMABAD: Soon after following the implementation of U.S restrictions on Pakistani diplomats, the Foreign Ministry on Friday announced ‘reciprocal’ travel restrictions on U.S. diplomats.
Pakistani authorities sent a letter to the U.S embassy in Islamabad notifying them about the travel restrictions on the movement of U.S. diplomats in the country. The restrictions on U.S. diplomats are applicable from Friday (today), according to the ministry’s notification.
Other than travelling limitation, rest of the measures announced by the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan include treating US diplomatic cargo at Pakistani airports and ports in accordance with Vienna Convention’s Article 27 (which does not provide for an exemption from scanning) and taking no objection certificate (NOC) from the ministry before installing radio communication at residences, and while moving or renting property.
As the notification reads, the use of tinted windows on official vehicles as well as rented vehicles and use of SIMs that are not biometrically verified or registered are not permissible for the U.S embassy anymore.
Moreover, U.S diplomats will also have to withdraw facilities of using non-diplomatic number plates on official vehicles, using diplomatic number plates on unspecified or rented vehicles, and overshooting visa periods and/or using multiple passports.
The Pakistan move came after the U.S. decision to restrict the movement of Pakistani diplomats in America took effect earlier today. The measures will likely to further strain ties between the two sides.
The U.S. government notified Pakistani authorities that diplomats at its Washington embassy and consulates will be barred from traveling more than 40 kilometers from their posts without prior permission.
Pakistan Ambassador to the US Aizaz Chaudhry also confirmed that the United States’ travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats came into effect from Friday (May 11).
“In my opinion, this is not the right decision,” Chaudhry told the Voice of America. “Both countries have to come close to each other, and measures like these do not help us to that end.”
The State Department says it has “nothing to announce on the matter at this time,” but has previously said it has the “authority to impose a range of travel controls” under the 1982 Foreign Missions Act.
“Probably they [the U.S.] have some other grievances, which is under discussion. We believe that matters can be solved. A mechanism has been worked out,” he said. “This step was not necessary. But now that they’ve taken this decision, they must have thought it through.”
Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been cold in recent months, since the US suspended more than $1 billion in security aid to Pakistan.
A frustrated President Donald Trump issued a New Year’s Day tweet, saying the U.S. had given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid and gotten nothing but “lies and deceit” in return. He accused the Pakistanis of giving safe haven to terrorists the U.S. is fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.