US diplomat involved in fatal traffic accident barred from leaving Pakistan

US diplomat involved in fatal traffic accident barred from leaving Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities have barred a U.S. diplomat involved in a fatal traffic accident from leaving the country, forcing an American military aircraft flown in for his departure to leave without him.

On April 7, US Defence and Air Attaché Col Joseph Emanuel Hall broke the traffic rules and bumped his vehicle into a motorbike, killing a 22-year-old Ateeq and injuring his cousin.

The move came a day after Pakistan said it would restrict the movements of all American diplomats in the country in response to Washington’s similar restrictions on Pakistani embassy diplomats.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Islamabad declined to comment on either development in the uneasy alliance with Pakistan.

A day earlier, an Islamabad court had ruled his diplomatic immunity may not apply in the April 7 traffic accident in which the U.S. attache’s vehicle hit a motorcycle, killing the 22-year-old driver.

As a result, a U.S. Air Force C130 flown in to Pakistan’s Nur Khan air base outside Islamabad was forced to leave without him on Friday.

Separately, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it would apply travel restrictions to all U.S. diplomatic staff similar to those applied by Washington, according to a notification sent to the U.S. Embassy on Friday and obtained by Reuters.

The new U.S. rules require diplomats to obtain permission to travel more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from their stations.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department on Saturday confirmed the new restrictions on its employees in Pakistan but declined further comment on them and said there was no immediate comment on the diplomat prevented from leaving on Saturday.

“We are in regular communication with our Pakistani counterparts. We do not discuss details of diplomatic conversations,” the spokeswoman said.