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Question of the Day
U.S. protests travel curb
U.S.-Pakistani relations, already strained over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, turned uglier last week when airport officials in the capital Islamabad tried to impose travel checks on U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter.
Mr. Munter “took strong exception” when officials at Benazir Bhutto Airport asked to see a travel document that permits foreign diplomats to take trips outside of Islamabad, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported Sunday.
He “strongly protested” the incident with airport authorities, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was informed of the dispute.
Pakistan announced it would enforce rules on diplomatic travel and require foreign officials to carry a document called a “no-objection certificate” on trips within the country. The certificate means the Foreign Office has no objection to a particular diplomat’s travel.
Mr. Munter reportedly carried the document but issued a formal protest, claiming the restriction violates international law that guarantees free travel under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The Pakistani government announced its travel rules in June, about a month after the May 2 Navy commando raid on bin Laden’s compound near Islamabad. The government was embarrassed that bin Laden was living in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, and some U.S. officials suspect the Pakistani intelligence service was hiding the al Qaeda terrorist leader.
However, he added, “there are general guidelines regarding travel of Pakistan-based diplomats, designed only to ensure their safety and security, which have existed for a long time.”
Privately, the government realized it had created a diplomatic incident with the United States.
The newspaper added that the Foreign Office is reviewing its enforcement of the travel checks.
In the United States, Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani is hoping that the import of a major Pakistani fruit will sweeten diplomatic relations between Washington and Islamabad.
Mr. Haqqani traveled to Chicago last week to celebrate the arrival of the first Pakistani mango shipment to the United States.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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