‘US forces Pak to ease restrictions on diplomats’

Pak`s most recent move was to restrict US diplomats` ability to travel freely within the country.

Last Updated: Aug 02, 2011, 21:45 PM IST

Washington: The US has forced Pakistan to
ease travel restrictions on its diplomats after it threatened
to reciprocate by invoking international law, according to a
media report.

The US hit back against unusual curbs on the movements
of its diplomats that had been set by Pakistani authorities on
the instructions of the country`s spy agency ISI, the Time
Magazine said in its online report.

US officials say that American diplomats in Pakistan
have suffered harassment at the hands of the authorities,
citing instances of midnight searches, tip-offs to local media
about the movements of US officials, the magazine said.

Pakistani officials` most recent move was to restrict
the ability of US diplomats to travel freely within the
country, citing "security reasons."

In its easing of the travel restrictions, Pakistan
furnished the US embassy in Islamabad with blanket "no
objection certificates," allowing the diplomats to move
unimpeded within the country for a month, it said.

However, despite the waiver, the restrictions remain
formally in place.

US diplomats may still be asked to demonstrate that
they have permission to travel and will have to seek
extensions of their no-objection certificates on a monthly
basis, the report said.

Under the Vienna Convention governing rules for
diplomats, any restrictions imposed by Pakistan on US
diplomats can be reciprocated by Washington, an unnamed
official was quoted as saying by the Time.

The latest developments came after Pakistan reportedly
put curbs on the movement of American officials. In some
cases, certain US diplomats were also stopped from entering
Peshawar city, allegedly because of lack of documents.

American Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter was
recently stopped at Islamabad airport by officials enforcing a
rule that requires all foreign diplomats to have a
"no-objection certificate" for travelling outside Islamabad.

Pakistan`s ISI began keeping a close watch on American
diplomats in the wake of the raid against Osama bin Laden as
it believed the CIA was running a secret network of American
and Pakistani operatives in the country.

PTI