In this scuffle of diplomacy, Provocative statements and coercive actions on the part of the US Administration, it seems that our approach is not one for backing down or appeasement. Pakistan often has tried to give a cautious response in order to avoid escalation in tension considering the relations between the both countries are very important for regional stability especially in Afghanistan.
After U.S announced that it would implement restrict ban on travel measures on Pakistani diplomats, Pakistan has responded tit for tat and withdrew concessions it had granted to U.S. missions as part of the war on terror.
Foreign Office’s tit for tat move on Friday in response to the US’s travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats would have pleased all and sundry including the opposition parties in Parliament who of late was very critical of FO’s soft stance on different issues.
The U.S. State Department said it is in regular communication with the Pakistani government and does not divulge details of diplomatic conversations. The decision to impose reciprocal restrictions on the US diplomats indeed is in line with the aspiration of the public at large that in fact does not want deterioration of relations with any country including the US but want these relations to be built on the basis of mutual respect and interest.
The latest restrictions, the US has barred Pakistani diplomats not to go beyond 25-mile radius without permission, it was also surprising that the diplomats were getting special treatment and getting a fast track clearance at our airports but on the other hand our diplomats even the Prime Minister Abbasi used to undergo strict and often humiliating security check at the Washington airports. Hence, the FO has done the right thing by not only restricting the movement of the American diplomats but also withdrawing the special favours or treatment they were getting in the country in so many different forms.
The American diplomats should also undergo security checks at the airports like any other passenger since our diplomats are not being given any special treatment at the US airports. It will be better if Pakistan and US engage and sort out the issue pertaining to the movement of diplomats in accordance with the diplomatic norms that ensure mutual respect and facilities to the diplomats and their families.
It is good to see that the government has filled the seat of the Foreign Minister by giving the additional charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Khurram Dastagir at this critical stage, we expect that in the days ahead also Pakistan will continue to take decisions that reflect the aspirations of the people and enhance its prestige and honour in the comity of nations.
Such diplomatic hostilities were noted during diplomats of Pakistan and Soviet Union during the Cold War times, when Pakistan was officially allies with the US against the communist regime. Such hostility is also present in diplomatic exchanges between India and Pakistan. This is the first time in the history of Pak-US relations that tensions have inflamed to the point of imposing restrictions on diplomats, and represents the extent of strayed bilateral relations between the once uneasy allies.
No compromise should also be in the case of US Defense and Air Attaché Col Joseph Emanuel Hall who hit and killed a motorcyclist a few weeks back in Islamabad.
Justice should be provided to the victim family in this case. Islamabad High Court has declared that the US diplomat does not enjoy absolute immunity. Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 also speaks about the diplomatic immunity, not impunity. Diplomatic immunity is not intended to serve as a license for persons to flout the law and purposely avoid liability for their actions.