Press Trust of india

Pakistan bars US diplomat from leaving country

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Islamabad, May 13: Pakistan has prevented a US diplomat involved in a fatal road accident in Islamabad to leave the country, a move that could further strain the bilateral ties. Pakistani media showed footage of a US plane at Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi near Islamabad that reportedly arrived yesterday to fly back defence attache Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall.

A security official said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) refused to give clearance to Hall flying out of the country as his name was on the blacklist and he could not leave Pakistan.

The plane later went back without the passenger, according to officials.

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.

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