Pakistani Police Charge US Security Officer in Traffic Incident
Pakistani authorities have charged a U.S. Embassy security officer with trying to obstruct an investigation into a traffic accident involving an American diplomat on Sunday. The case increases diplomatic tensions with the United States, weeks after another American diplomat ran a red light in the capital and was involved in an accident in which a motorcyclist was killed.
Police said Sunday's accident occurred when two motorcyclists collided with a U.S. Embassy vehicle driven by the diplomat. One of the motorcyclists was charged with reckless driving.
Police accused the embassy security officer of trying to stop officers from detaining the diplomat. The U.S. Embassy said the American diplomat's role in the accident had been resolved.
On April 7, authorities said, the defense attache at the U.S. Embassy, Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall, ran a red light on a main Islamabad road and collided with a motorcycle carrying two people. One was killed and the other was seriously injured.
U.S. officials expressed their "deep sympathy to the family of the deceased and those injured," and pledged to fully cooperate with local authorities in the investigation. Hall's name has since been placed on Pakistan's "black list," preventing him from leaving the country pending a court case against him. Raja Khalid, deputy attorney general, informed the high court in Islamabad last Tuesday that the U.S. defense attache could neither be tried nor arrested because the Vienna Conventions guarantee immunity to designated diplomats against criminal jurisdiction.
Khalid emphasized the diplomat could be tried only if the U.S. waived his immunity. The court will reconvene this week for a fresh hearing. Diplomatic tension
The two accidents come amid Islamabad's increased diplomatic tension with Washington over allegations Pakistan harbors terrorist sanctuaries. Pakistani officials say these allegations are baseless. Last week, a senior State Department official, Alice Wells, visited Islamabad and took up, among other subjects, Hall's case in meetings with top foreign ministry officials.
During the talks, Pakistani officials demanded a waiver of diplomatic immunity so that Hall could be prosecuted. But Wells reportedly refused the demand. The U.S. government also has recently notified Islamabad that Pakistani diplomats in the United States could be placed under new travel restrictions.
It remains unclear when the measures could take effect.