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May 11, 2018

US travel ban on Pak officials, families begins

Top Story

May 11, 2018

WASHINGTON: As the proposed travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats at its embassy here and other consulate offices across America come into force from today (Friday), the State Department has extended the ban on officials and has included their immediate members of the family as well.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry confirmed to The News that the travel restrictions cover two-tier officials station in the US bearing visa categories of A1, and A2 and also the members of their families, including children. "Over 250 Pakistani individuals altogether might get affected by this ban," he said.

The Trump administration communicated to the Pakistani government last month that its officials working in the US could face restrictions in their travel movement if similar limitations on American diplomats in Pakistan were not eased up. According to the warning sent by the State Department, the Pakistani diplomatic staff would need permission at least five days ahead from US authorities if they need to travel outside of the imposed 25 miles radius.

The warning also says if the officials do not hear back from the US authorities within five days, their request should be considered as denied.

The two sides discussed the proposal and its possible outcome, which delayed the imposition another 10 days. The peculiar regulations were to be implemented from May 1, but were postponed for another 10 days. Pakistan Embassy spokesperson had then said, that "the proposal from the US State Department was under discussion between the two governments."

Aizaz Chaudhry also confirmed that in this duration both countries debated a "mechanism to address the issue. The mechanism could not mature, according to which a point officer from each sides was to work closely to address any complaints." The talks apparently failed and both sides could not find a common ground, leaving the proposed mechanism in the air.

The ambassador also hinted that such restrictions would not only suppress the relationship further but could also compel Pakistan to take reciprocal steps. "This method could muddy the water," he said adding that although the restrictions were reversible but both countries have to resolve their differences as early as possible.

This is the first time for Pakistani diplomats serving in America and their families face such travel regulations, whereas in the past US governments have practised such codes on Russian and Chinese officials.

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