— FM says US embassy has assured Pakistani govt of full cooperation in investigation
–Says Pakistan is effectively highlighting Kashmir issue at international fora
–Says Nawaz’s visits to foreign countries had cost national exchequer Rs1bn
–‘No legal obligation breached by appointing Siddiqui as US ambassador’
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Wednesday said that action will be taken in accordance with law against the American Embassy’s air and defence attaché who recently hit and killed a motorcyclist in the federal capital.
Responding to questions of members in the National Assembly, the foreign minister said the American diplomat is still in Pakistan and the US embassy has assured full cooperation in the investigation.
Colonel Joseph Emmanuel Hall hit a motorcyclist as he jumped the traffic signal at the intersection of Margalla Road and 7th Avenue in the federal capital on Saturday. The incident killed a youth while the pillion rider received serious injuries.
The deceased was identified as 22-year-old Ateeq Baig. A resident of Talhar village in Margalla Hills. His father is employed as a security guard at a public school in Saidpur village.
In his complaint, the father of the deceased said his son and nephew were hit by a land cruiser at Daman-e-Koh Chowk on Margalla Road. The complainant said his son and nephew were crossing the intersection in accordance with traffic rules when hit by the vehicle jumping signals.
A traffic policeman posted nearby responded immediately and informed authorities. The US colonel was then taken to Kohsar police station in F-7. Officials said Hall was alone in the car at the time.
The police said in a statement issued 30 hours after the accident that they did not arrest the US diplomat because the Vienna convention provided him immunity.
According to Article 29 of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. “He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving state shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.”
Earlier on Sunday, the Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale to record “strong protest” against the killing of the Pakistani citizen.
On Monday the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police requested the Federal Ministry of Interior to place the name of the US defence and air attache on the Exit Control List (ECL) to prevent him from escaping Pakistan.
The Interior Ministry is yet to respond to this request.
DECEASED’S FAMILY MOVES COURT:
The father of the deceased submitted an application to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking the arrest of the US diplomat. He stated in the application that the US defence and air attaché was drunk when he rammed his vehicle into the motorbike.
He urged the court to arrest the accused, who had been released by Islamabad police due to diplomatic immunity, adding that the accused’s name should be put on ECL.
The aggrieved father said that the Kohsar police station lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against the foreign diplomat due to media pressure, adding that the police are not taking action against the accused.
The US military attaché, Kohsar police station SHO and others have been made respondents in the case.
Addressing the NA, Khawaja Asif further said that Pakistan is strongly highlighting the Kashmir dispute at international fora, including United Nations (UN), Human Rights Commission and OIC.
He said that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has met with the UN secretary general in China and discussed with him the Indian atrocities in the Indian occupied valley. He said our diplomatic missions abroad are also exposing India’s state terrorism to the world.
PAKISTANI NATIONALS AT GUANTANAMO BAY:
Asif said that five Pakistani nationals are currently detained at Guantanamo Bay. Two of them are facing charges while the remaining three have not been charged with any crime. He said efforts are being made to bring the three detainees back to the country.
PAKISTANIS SETTLED ABROAD:
During Wednesday’s session, the Foreign Ministry submitted a written response in the NA on the number of Pakistanis who have settled abroad, which the ministry said, has increased in the last year.
According to the ministry, better educational institutes in foreign countries is one of the reasons for the increased settlement of Pakistanis abroad.
More than 8.5 million Pakistanis have settled abroad at present, adding that since January 2013, more than 3.7 million Pakistanis moved abroad.
NAWAZ’S FOREIGN VISITS HAD COST COUNTRY RS 1BN:
Over a billion rupees were spent on former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s international trips during his third term in the office, Asif told the NA.
According to the report presented by the FM at the request of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s request (PTI), Kh Asif stated that 64 international tours during the third term of Nawaz Sharif had cost the exchequer at least Rs1.013 billion.
Nawaz Sharif went on 10 foreign trips in 2013, 11 in 2014, 23 in 2015, nine in 2016 and just as many in 2017 before his tenure was cut short by the SC in the Panamagate ruling.
Saudi Arabia was the most frequently visited country: the former premier visited the kingdom seven times in total. The US was visited by the premier six times, including four visits to the UN; and his visits to China stand at four.
SIDDIQUI AS US AMBASSADOR:
The foreign minister made it clear that there was no legal and constitutional ban on envoy-designate to US Ali Jahangir Siddiqui.
Answering a question, he said no one had the right to disrespect anyone’s credibility, adding that no legal violation was committed while making the appointment of Siddiqui. He maintained that in the past, there were a number of such examples when people other than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were appointed as ambassadors.