Islamabad bars some US soldiers from leaving

April 5th, 2011 - 1:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, April 5 (IANS) Islamabad has barred some US military personnel from leaving the country due to expired visas and other irregularities in their documents, a media report said Tuesday.

Dawn Tuesday said that while some sources put the number of US soldiers denied exit from the country at between 20-30, others said the figure was a little less than 100.

The move comes just three weeks after a Pakistani court March 16 freed Raymond Davis, a US official arrested for gunning down two men in Lahore, after blood money was paid in accordance with Sharia law.

Davis, 36, shot dead two Pakistanis on a motorcycle in Lahore Jan 27 following what he described as an attempted armed robbery. He claimed that he acted in self-defence.

The January shooting sparked a diplomatic row with the US, which persistently claimed Davis was an embassy employee and enjoyed diplomatic immunity, particularly after it emerged he was working for the CIA.

Those who have now been impacted were assigned to the US Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP) that looks after America’s military relations with Pakistan.

The US military personnel were working on various projects with the Pakistan military.

The media report said some of the soldiers had overstayed their visas while the rest had No Objection Certificates that had expired.

The US soldiers were issued NOCs by the Joint Services Headquarters. Sources said the personnel had stayed in the country beyond the approved period and some of them had got their visas extended without having
uptodate NOCs.

The issue had been discussed between the Foreign Office and the US embassy.

“ODRP and the embassy have been in discussions with Pakistani authorities over visa renewals. We hope to be able to work through this issue,” a US military spokesman was quoted as saying.

A Pakistani military official simply said: “These are procedural issues.”

Following the Raymond Davis issue, there has been stringent application of immigration rules and movements of the American embassy’s non-diplomatic staff outside Islamabad and their station of duty have been restricted.

A revision of the visa policy was also being considered.

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