Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Pakistan

Newsline: US Embassy Officer in Pakistan Is Charged With Obstruction

The police in Pakistan have charged a United States Embassy security officer with seeking to obstruct an investigation into a car accident involving an embassy vehicle, police officials said on Monday, adding to diplomatic tensions days after an American military attaché was barred from leaving the country over a separate collision. The arrest was made after an American diplomat’s Toyota hit and injured two people on a motorcycle in Islamabad on Sunday evening, the police said. The injured people were hospitalized, and the diplomat, identified as Second Secretary Chad Rex Ausburn, was briefly detained before being released after the Foreign Ministry confirmed his diplomatic credentials. But the police said that Taimur Iqbal Pirzada, a security adviser for the American Embassy, sought to obstruct an investigation of the accident and to stop officers from taking the diplomat and his vehicle to a police station. Mr. Pirzada was charged with obstruction and with using assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from carrying out duties. He was released on bail on Monday after appearing in court. The Islamabad police also registered a case of reckless driving against the motorcycle driver, Nazakat Aslam, on Monday. A spokesman for the American Embassy in Islamabad was not available for comment. The accident over the weekend follows an episode this month that drew attention on social media as well as street protests. Pakistani officials say the American Embassy’s military attaché, Col. Joseph E. Hall, ran through a red light in an upscale Islamabad neighborhood on April 7, crashing into a motorcycle and killing a passenger. As a result, Colonel Hall has been barred from leaving Pakistan, and officials have demanded that the United States waive his diplomatic immunity so that he can face a criminal trial. American officials have refused. In 2011, a C.I.A. security officer, Raymond A. Davis, shot and killed two armed men in the eastern city of Lahore, causing a countrywide outrage. Mr. Davis was freed after the families of the victims received financial compensation.


Newsline: Pakistan bars US diplomat from travel over fatal crash

An American diplomat who struck a Pakistani motorcyclist in a fatal road accident earlier this month has been barred from leaving the country, pending a civil court case, Pakistani officials said. The U.S. military attaché, Col. Joseph Emanuel Hall, is accused of running a red light and killing Ateeq Baig on April 7. Hall enjoys diplomatic immunity, so he cannot be arrested or tried. But the two Pakistani officials said Baig’s family has filed a civil case against him, hoping for compensation. They said Hall’s name was added to a “black list” by the government this month. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. The U.S. embassy said it was in touch with Pakistan about the travel restrictions, without elaborating. Officials refused to disclose Hall’s location for safety and security reasons. However, Pakistani official say he has not left the country. The embassy has previously expressed condolences to Baig’s family, which this month rallied in Islamabad, demanding justice.


Newsline: US faces $1m blood money demand in Pakistan over killer diplomat

The family of a Pakistani man killed in a crash with a US defence attaché who went through a red light could demand up to $1 million in blood money. Police are trying to block Colonel Joseph Hall, who works at the US embassy, from fleeing Pakistan after his 4×4 hit a motorbike carrying two men in Islamabad. Ateeq Baig, 22, died at the scene and his cousin, Raheel Ahmed, is in a critical condition.


Newsline: Pakistani diplomat placed on wanted list by India for plotting attacks against Israeli and US embassies

India’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) placed Pakistani diplomat Amir Zubair Siddiqui on ‘wanted’ list claiming that he was planning to “carry out terrorist attacks”. The Indian intelligence agency claimed that Siddiqui, who served as a visa counsellor at Pakistani Embassy in Colombo, “planned to carry out 2009 Mumbai-like attacks on Israeli and American embassies in India.” Two other individuals, whose identities were not revealed but were claimed to be from Pakistan, were also placed on the ‘most wanted list’ along with Siddiqui. It was further claimed that Amir “had tasked the local terror outfits to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka”. NIA also claimed to have arrested the leader of the group that was tasked by Siddiqui and that “he revealed during interrogation that he was told to attack the Israeli and US embassies”. The Indian agency has also claimed to have contacted the Interpol over the matter.


Newsline: Pakistan calls in US ambassador over embassy vehicle fatality

Pakistan on Sunday summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest a fatal traffic accident involving an American diplomatic vehicle in the capital, Islamabad, and an embassy statement said it was cooperating in the investigation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement it had called in U.S. Ambassador David Hale to lodge a complaint over “the tragic death of the motorcyclist and serious injury to the co-rider in the traffic accident yesterday that involved a U.S. diplomat”. Few details about the accident were available and there was no word of any charges being filed. Local station Geo TV said the vehicle had collided with the motorcycle on Saturday and police had seized the embassy vehicle. Pakistan said “justice will take its course in accordance with the law of the land and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961”, indicating it recognises the U.S. official’s diplomatic immunity.


Newsline: Man killed after US Embassy car hits motorcycle in Islamabad

A man was killed after a US Embassy car collided with a motorcycle near the federal capital’s near Islamabad’s Daman-e-Koh vicinity on Saturday. The white Land Cruiser, driven by US defense air attaché hit a motorcycle around 3PM in Kohsar Police Station’s jurisdiction. Motorcyclist Ateeq Baig — resident of the city’s Tihar suburb — was killed in the accident. The US official was not arrested owing to their diplomatic immunity, however, the police took custody of the vehicle. A statement released by the US Embassy confirmed the accident. The embassy is in contact with the local authorities to probe into the incident, the statement added. Dr Muhammad Faisal, the spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the matter is being investigated.


Newsline: Pakistanis in Poland protest against embassy in Warsaw over alleged misconduct

Overseas Pakistanis protested outside the Pakistan Embassy in Warsaw, Poland against ‘unprofessional’ and ‘irresponsible’ conduct of the embassy staff. The protest initiated after a staff member, identified as Mian Azeem, misbehaved with an overseas Pakistani and his Polish national wife, who claim that Azeem threatened to physically assault them. The protesters also demand suspension of a counselor, identified as Shamima Saeed, and various other members of the embassy staff. Earlier, Shamima Saeed refused to accept visa documents of the Polish woman and her daughter. The documents, however, were accepted later but no details regarding the visa issuance has been shared, said the family.