US diplomat ‘involved in fatal crash’ barred from leaving Pakistan
The Islamabad High Court ruled on Friday that the US diplomat did not have absolute immunity. The Pakistan Interior Ministry was quoted as saying that Hall was on a “blacklist” because of the criminal case against him and was barred from leaving the country.
Islamabad: A US diplomat in Pakistan allegedly responsible for the death of a motorcyclist last month has been barred from leaving the country. A plane meant to carry Col. Joseph Emanuel Hall was denied clearance by Pakistan authorities, according to a BBC report.
US officials had earlier said that Hall, a military attache, had diplomatic immunity and so could not be tried or arrested by Pakistan.CCTV footage showed a white vehicle, believed to be driven by Hall, crash into a motorcycle after ignoring a red light at a traffic signal north of capital Islamabad on April 7.
The victim was identified as 22-year-old Ateeq Baig. Reports appearing in the Pakistani media have claimed that Hall was drunk at the time of the accident, but the US embassy has denied such claims.
The Islamabad High Court ruled on Friday that Hall did not have absolute immunity. The Pakistan Interior Ministry was quoted as saying that Hall was on a “blacklist” because of the criminal case against him and was barred from leaving the country.
“This is a development that could well develop into a full-blown crisis for relations if it’s not resolved soon,” Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist told The New York Times. “Since Joseph is understood to have diplomatic immunity, Pakistan’s refusal to let him leave the country will be seen by Washington as a wholly unjustifiable and illegal act.
”Relations between the two countries have been strained after the Trump administration suspended a major chunk of its security aid to Pakistan, with the US president saying on Twitter that Pakistan was providing a “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”