An American diplomat in Pakistan, Colonel Joseph Hall, was stopped from flying from Islamabad just minutes before boarding a special US aircraft brought in from Afghanistan. According to Pakistan-based Dawn News, the diplomat, accused of killing a motorcyclist after running a red light, had reached Nur Khan Air Base for boarding US Air Force C-130 aircraft.
The aircraft had flown from Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and reached Islamabad at 11.15 am (local time). The Dawn reported that the American diplomat was accompanied by eight people.
Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency official stopped the diplomat at the airbase and seized his passport. The report quoted Dawn sources as saying that the official then sought directions from higher authorities.
No permission was given to Colonel Hall to fly out of Pakistan and the US military aircraft returned to airbase in Afghanistan. It left Islamabad at around 4 pm.
The development came a day after Islamabad High Court passed a judgement that the US diplomat did not enjoy absolute immunity. It also ordered the government to decide about adding his name to the Exit Control List, which controls the movement of people wanted by courts or those involved in corruption.
Colonel Hall on April 7 jumped a traffic signal in Islamabad and hit a motorbike carrying two men. One of them was killed. His father had approached the Islamabad High Court to stop the diplomat from leaving the country.
The issue has further strained the ties between Pakistan and the US which are already at odds over the issue of providing safe havens to the Taliban and the Haqqani network terror groups in Afghanistan.
In what is being dubbed as a tit-for-tat move, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry on Friday imposed travel restrictions on American diplomats in the country as similar restrictions on the movement of Pakistani diplomats in the US.
According to the US decision, Pakistani diplomats, at the embassy in Washington and four consulates in New York, Los Angeles, Texas and Chicago, will need to stay within 25 miles (40-kms) of the city of their posting.
(With PTI Inputs)