US Army personnel barred from leaving Pakistan


Expired visas and other documentary irregularities cited as reason for travel ban of US military personnel in Pakistan

IANS

Islamabad has barred some US military personnel from leaving the country due to expired visas and other irregularities in their documents, a report said on Tuesday.

The newspaper Dawn reported that some sources said between 20-30 persons had been denied permission to leave, while others sources put the figure at around 100.

The move comes just three weeks after a Pakistani court freed Raymond Davis, a US official arrested for gunning down two men in Lahore, following payment of blood money in accordance with Sharia law.

Davis shot dead two Pakistanis on a motorcycle in Lahore on January 27 after what he described as an attempted armed robbery. He claimed that he acted in self-defence.

The January shooting sparked a diplomatic row with the US, which claimed Davis was an embassy employee and enjoyed diplomatic immunity, particularly after it emerged he was working for the CIA.

Military relations

The military who have now been affected were assigned to the US Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP) that looks after America’s military relations with Pakistan.

The report said some of the soldiers had overstayed their visas while the rest had No Objection Certificates that had expired.

The issue has been discussed by the Foreign Office and the US embassy.

“We hope to be able to work through this issue,” a US military spokesman was quoted as saying. A military official said that these were just procedural issues.

Following the Raymond Davis issue, there has been stringent application of immigration rules and movements of the American embassy’s non-diplomatic staff outside Islamabad and their stations of duty have been restricted.

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