US removes restrictions on Pakistani diplomats’ movement: Pak FO

Islamabad, August 8  

The US has removed restrictions imposed last year on the movement of Pakistani diplomats and diplomatic staff stationed in the country, an official of the Pakistan Foreign Office said on Thursday.

Under the US restrictions, Pakistani diplomats were banned from moving further than 25 miles from the cities in which they were posted. They were also required to seek permission from the State Department five days in advance if they planned to visit another city.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan and the US had agreed to simultaneously withdraw travel restrictions.

“This will facilitate movement of diplomats,” he said.

Pakistan had announced ‘reciprocal’ travel restrictions on US diplomats.

The Dawn reported that Islamabad also has restored the facilities that US diplomats had enjoyed in Pakistan until last year.

So far the Foreign Office has not commented on the development which followed the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the US last month.

During Khan’s visit to Washington late last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Islamabad had asked Washington to remove those restrictions, which prevent Pakistani diplomats from performing their duties properly.

Diplomatic tensions between the US and Pakistan heightened in April 2018 when US diplomat Joseph Emmanuel Hall ran a red light in Islamabad, killing a motorcyclist and injuring a passenger.

A court in Islamabad ruled that the American diplomat didn’t have the right to absolute immunity and ordered the government to put his name on the exit control list within two weeks so that he cannot leave the country. 

In January 2018, President Donald Trump used his first tweet of the year to criticise Pakistan over its failure to combat terrorism.

Relations between the two countries have improved markedly since Prime Minister Khan’s visit to Washington last month.

Since then, the Trump administration has released about USD 125 million for the renovation and repair of US-built F-16 fighter jets that Pakistan has purchased from the US. — PTI