US Imposing Travel Restrictions on Pak Diplomats

The United States is imposing travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats starting Friday, Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry told VOA Thursday.

“In my opinion, this is not the right decision,” Chaudhry told VOA’s Urdu service. “Both countries have to come close to each other, and measures like these do not help us to that end.”

The State Department says it has “nothing to announce on the matter at this time,” but has previously said it has the “authority to impose a range of travel controls” under the 1982 Foreign Missions Act.

Last month, Pakistani media reported that diplomats would be restricted from traveling more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the embassy in Washington or consulates in other cities without permission.

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry
FILE – Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry

Pakistani diplomats previously have been allowed to travel throughout the United States without limits.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry has called it a matter of reciprocity because most foreign diplomats, including Americans, face travel restrictions in Pakistan because of security concerns.

But, according to Chaudhry, there may be other issues behind the U.S. decision.

“Probably they [the U.S.] have some other grievances, which is under discussion. We believe that matters can be solved. A mechanism has been worked out,” he said. “This step was not necessary. But now that they’ve taken this decision, they must have thought it through.”

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been cold in recent months, since the U.S. suspended more than $1 billion in security aid to Pakistan.

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A frustrated President Donald Trump issued a New Year’s Day tweet, saying the U.S. had given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid and gotten nothing but “lies and deceit” in return. He has accused the Pakistanis of giving safe haven to terrorists the U.S. is fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan has denied it is looking to destabilize Afghanistan and said it wants to work to find common ground with the United States.

VOA’s Nike Ching contributed to this report.

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