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Under widely accepted international conventions, diplomats are generally free from prosecution in the countries they work to ensure that they do not become victims of rivalry between the states. Sometimes diplomats accused of serious crimes face trial in their own country.

The issue of American diplomats or their security details carrying weapons inside Pakistan was a hot-button subject last year among certain politicians and sections of the media, which were pushing conspiracy stories about armed U.S. spies roaming the streets, threatening ordinary Pakistanis. The Pakistani government never clearly stated who and under what circumstances foreigners were allowed to carry arms.

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Associated Press writers Asif Shahzad and Nahal Toosi in Islamabad and Babar Dogar in Lahore contributed to this report.