PESHAWAR: Despite concern by senior officials of the US and other countries over security checks on their diplomats, the law enforcers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are continuing with their surveillance of all the foreigners travelling to the troubled areas without prior permission, a source told The News.
On the directives of the federal government, the provincial government has imposed ban on the entry of all foreigners, including diplomats, to the sensitive areas such as Malakand and Kohat divisions as well as towns located on the Durand Line.
“The authorities are to continue with the policy and allow only those diplomats or foreigners who have obtained prior permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to visit specific areas. Those not having the “no objection certificate” (NOC) should be returned respectfully to Islamabad,” a source said.
The US State Department recently expressed concern over stopping of its diplomats by the security forces in Peshawar and other areas of the country, terming it harassment of their officials. The report said the official Pakistani obstructionism and harassment has increased to the point where it is significantly impairing mission operations and programme implementation.
The document, which was issued after a February fact-finding tour of the US diplomatic missions in Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore, has made 32 formal recommendations for improving the security and working conditions of the embassy staff.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs Department recently issued directives to the police not to allow any vehicle being used by the diplomats if they move into a prohibited area.
The country has been divided into open and prohibited areas for foreign diplomats and their families. The diplomats are allowed to move into the prohibited areas after obtaining permission from the concerned authorities through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The police have been directed to politely ask the diplomats to surrender arms, if any, in their possession.
The security personnel at the Peshawar Toll Plaza on the Motorway had stopped two diplomatic vehicles carrying six persons, including three US officials, and allowed them to go after seizing arms from them on June 4. The two vehicles were returning to Peshawar from the University of Malakand in Chakdarra in Lower Dir district for which the US authorities claim that they had obtained an NOC. The authorities at the police checkpost objected to the presence of arms in the cars, bearing registration numbers (QJ-679 and ST-476) and refused to let the occupants go until these were handed over to them.
Three foreigners and three Pakistani nationals were travelling in the two vehicles. The negotiations continued for a couple of hours as the occupants of the vehicles refused to hand over the arms to the personnel of the law-enforcement agencies.
They were taken to the Chamkani Police Station where US Consul General Marie Richards and senior police officials arrived to settle the issue. A case was later registered against the three Pakistani nationals.