- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) — Misdemeanor assault charges against Pakistan's U.N. ambassador, Munir Akram, were dropped, Pakistani diplomats told UPI Tuesday. He had been accused of battering a woman.

Officials at the Pakistani U.N. mission said the district attorney's office informed Akram's lawyers on Friday that the case will not be pursued.

Last month, the U.S. State Department had asked the Pakistani mission to withdraw Akram's diplomatic immunity so that he could be tried for assault.

City prosecutors wanted to investigate Akram on assault charges made in a telephone call by a woman friend, Marijana Mihic, 35, who has since recanted her story. No one at the district attorney's office was available for comments.

Earlier a spokeswoman at the district attorney's office told UPI the case is "under review." The spokeswoman acknowledged talks between the lawyers and the district attorney's office are ongoing, but refused to comment on the matter.

But Akram confirmed the charges have been withdrawn. " As a result of unfortunate misunderstanding I had to endure an excruciating period of personal anguish and public embarrassment. I am grateful to God and to the prayers and support of my friends and family that this matter has been settled on the basis of facts and principle of fairness."

"I am most grateful to the president, prime minister, the foreign minister, foreign secretary and all my many friends in and out of government who extended their support to me unconditionally and unreservedly."

Akram said he looked forward to serving the national interests of Pakistan at the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council as it deals with vital issues of concern to the international community and Pakistan.

Earlier, when the charges against him were reported in the media, religious extremists and women rights activists supported the demand for his resignation.

The Women Action Forum, an umbrella organization representing dozens of women groups, said an envoy accused of battering a woman should not be allowed to continue.

Religious groups said that an envoy who has been involved with a woman to whom he is not married cannot represent a Muslim nation.

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