Pakistan, US heading towards another diplomatic clash?

April 5th, 2011 - 2:56 pm ICT by ANI  

Islamabad, April 5(ANI): Pakistan and the United States seem to be heading towards another diplomatic row after the Raymond Davis standoff that got resolved last month, as Islamabad has barred a number of American military men from leaving the country due to expired visas and other documentary irregularities.

There are varying claims about the number of US soldiers denied exit from Pakistan, with some sources claiming that about 20-30 people have been affected, while others contending that the figure is slightly less than one hundred.

The men were assigned to the US Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP), which oversees Washington’s military relations with Islamabad, including training and equipment.

Most of these people had been working on different projects with the Pakistan military, and while some of the soldiers had overstayed their visas, a majority of them had expired NOCs.

The issue has been under discussion between Pakistan’s Foreign Office and the US Embassy, but a resolution is nowhere in sight, the Dawn reports.

While the Foreign Office remained tight-lipped on the matter because of its sensitive nature, a US military spokesman admitted that there were problems.

“ODRP and the Embassy have been in discussions with Pakistani authorities over visa renewals. We hope to be able to work through this issue,” he said, but chose not to reply to queries about how seriously the matter was affecting the already strained bilateral ties and what measures were being taken to resolve it.

Trying to play down the matter, a Pakistani military official said: “These are procedural issues.”

According to the report, in addition to the strong application of immigration rules, movements of the US Embassy’s non-diplomatic staff outside Islamabad and their station of duty have been restricted, and a revision of the visa policy is also on the cards. (ANI)

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