US restriction on Pakistani diplomats’ travel begins today

The limitations on the movement of Pakistani diplomats in the United States (US) will be imposed from today (Friday).

The restrictions will also extend to the family members of the diplomats in the country.

In a letter sent by the US State Department, the Pakistani diplomatic staff would need permission at least five days in advance if they need to travel outside of the imposed 25 miles radius.

Pakistan has an embassy in Washington DC and four consulates in the rest of the country.

Last month, the Trump administration communicated to the Pakistani government that its officials working in the US could face restrictions in their travel if similar limitations on American diplomats in Pakistan are not eased up.

The first deadline was said to be May 1 but following partially successful negotiations, the timeframe was extended by 10 days.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said the travel restrictions cover two-tier officials stationed in the US bearing visa categories of A1, and A2 and also the members of their families, including children.

“Over 250 Pakistani individuals altogether might get affected by this ban,” he said.

In April, in an interview with Voice of America’s Uzbek service, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said this restriction was placed in response to the same conditions Islamabad has imposed on US diplomats.

Shannon stressed that this is nothing new and such steps are routine matters.

A senior official had later told Geo News, requesting anonymity, that the warning came out earlier this year and the two sides have been discussing the proposal and its possible outcome since then.

The official also insisted that the warning had nothing to do with the fatal road accident when a Pakistani citizen was killed by a US diplomat.

This is the first time for Pakistani diplomats serving in America and their families face such travel regulations, whereas in the past US governments have practised such codes on Russian and Chinese officials.

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