Pakistan bars United States diplomat from leaving amid tense relations

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Local media showed footage of a USA plane at Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi near Islamabad that reportedly arrived earlier today to fly back defence and air attache Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall.

The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that all US diplomats in the country are facing as of today travel restrictions in their territory.

Colonel Joseph Hall, a defence attaché, accompanied by eight people from the US Embassy had reached Nur Khan Air Base in Rawalpindi to board a special aircraft that had arrived from Bagram base in Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to brief reporters. The diplomat was later released after the Foreign Office (FO) said he enjoys diplomatic immunity.

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On April 7, Col Hall killed a youth and injured the pillion rider as he jumped the traffic signal at the intersection of Margalla Road and 7 Avenue in the federal capital.

A United States defence attaché who killed a local man when his 4x4 struck a motorbike in Islamabad last month has been stopped from fleeing the country.

The U.S. State Department on Saturday confirmed the new restrictions on its employees in Pakistan but declined further comment. In fact it is the second time in the last couple of days that Pakistan has taken a bold and just stance on an issue with Washington.

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In its ruling on Friday, the IHC also granted two weeks to the Ministry of Interior to put Col Joseph's name on Exit Control List (ECL).

"This is a development that could well develop into a full-blown crisis for relations if it's not resolved soon", said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. However, Pakistani immigration officials refused to allow Col Hall from boarding the plane, compelling him to return to the embassy. "So far no government official or US Embassy official has offered us the agreement".

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