ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): Members of the opposition parties Friday expressed concerns over deteriorating relations between Pakistan and the United States and called for expulsion of US nationals working in Pakistan for different non-government organisations (NGOs) and aid agencies.
Opposition Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said Pakistan-US ties were getting strained, which she said was not good.
Rehman lamented that the country’s foreign minister also turned out to be “Iqama-affectee”, questioning, “Why is not a foreign minister being appointed given the fact that individuals are overnight instated as ministers for the budget presentation.”
Calling for early appointment of a minister of foreign affairs, the opposition leader also expressed concerns over failure of the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions committee in listing of Umer Khalid Khurasani, leader of banned outfit Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA).
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member of the National Assembly Shireen Mazari demanded bringing the number of US diplomats in Pakistan equal to that of Pakistani officials in the United States.
“Only as many Americans should be allowed here as the number of Pakistani diplomats deployed in the United States,” Mazari said, while speaking on the floor of the House.
She noted that a large number of US nationals had been working with different NGOs and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Pakistan, and called for their expulsion from the country.
Earlier, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Aizaz Chaudhry confirmed that, from today, Pakistani diplomatic staff and their families would need permission at least five days in advance, if they needed to travel outside of the imposed 25-mile radius in the US.
Pakistan responded in kind to the travel restrictions with the Foreign Office unveiling a set of changes in the government’s dealing with US diplomats in the country.
Starting today, the Foreign Office said, American diplomats will also have to take prior permission for travelling — something which was earlier done only in special cases. It said the US diplomats would not be afforded the luxury of ‘fast-track’ luggage clearance at airports, would not be allowed to have more than one passport, and would stay in the country, strictly, as per their visa dates.
The Foreign Office further said the diplomats will not be allowed to use tinted glass on their vehicles, which was allowed as a protection measure, and diplomatic license plates on unauthorised vehicles.
Additionally, non-diplomatic number plates given to conceal diplomatic status for protection will also be taken back, it added.