US diplomats given 30-day travel NoC


Pakistan and the US have temporarily resolved the thorny issue of Islamabad’s travel restrictions on American diplomats following the Foreign Ministry’s issuance of a 30-day no-objection certificate (NOC) to the diplomatic staff at the US embassy.
However, a permanent solution to the quagmire has still not been derived as Pakistan has conveyed to the Obama administration that the matter would stand settled permanently when detailed information of all CIA operatives in Pakistan was made available to Islamabad.
Before granting the NoC, US diplomats were supposed to apply for an NOC five days in advance of their intended travel to destinations outside Islamabad, including to the cities where the US has consulates. The imposition of travel curbs on Islamabad-based American diplomats by Pakistan is the latest in a series of Pakistan-US spats that have emerged since the killing of Osama Bin Laden on May 2.
Since then, Pakistan has asked for withdrawal of all CIA operatives and military trainers from the country. Islamabad also sought assurance from the US of not repeating Abbottabad raid-like unilateral actions in the future, but Washington has not come up with any such undertaking so far and has contained expressing its displeasure over the al Qaeda chief’s presence in Abbottabad.
Apart from that, Pakistan also asked for an immediate halt to drone strikes in the Tribal Areas, but Washington did not heed to that request as well, leading to the suspension of the counter-terrorism cooperation, especially collaboration between the ISI and CIA.
The FBI also arrested Washington-based Kashmiri leader Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai and accused ISI of funding him illegally to lobby for the Kashmir cause in the US.
In his three-day visit to Islamabad that started Monday, US Special Representative Marc Grossman took up the matter of travel curbs on US diplomats forcefully with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.
A Pakistani diplomat said officials from both sides would try to reach a permanent settlement to the problem within a month. However, it would be a daunting task as Pakistani authorities wanted the US embassy to come up with a complete list of diplomats that it wanted to move around without any hindrance and were against granting the facility to CIA operatives, he said. Pakistan’s security organisations believe that despite strong demands, some CIA operatives were still present in the country and the travel curbs were mainly aimed at those “dubious” personnel.