WASHINGTON: Pakistan has the responsibility to facilitate and protect US diplomats travelling inside the country, says the State Department as relations between the two allies continue to deteriorate.
On Monday, the State Department issued a travel warning for its citizens saying that Americans in Pakistan are facing increased harassment and aid workers, journalists and diplomats have been falsely identified as spies in the local media.
Asked to comment on the travel advisory, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland reminded Pakistan of its responsibility to assist and protect US diplomats posted there.
“We believe that under the Vienna Convention, Pakistan, like any other government with which we have diplomatic relations, has a responsibility to allow travel of diplomats and to protect them when they travel,” she said.
Ms Nuland also dismissed as “ridiculous and disgusting” Pakistani media reports that the US itself was responsible for the death of 30 American commandos killed in Afghanistan earlier this week. All 30 were associated with the team that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 and media reports claimed that Americans had killed them to hide certain facts about that raid.
The US raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was seen in Pakistan as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and has further strained already tense relations between the two countries.
“When the Americans come into Pakistan in a military fashion, unilaterally with guns blazing, essentially they are creating fear amongst the populace, which instead of looking upon them as friends starts being suspicious,” Pakistan’s Ambassador Husain Haqqani told a Washington radio on Tuesday.
In a related development, two former top US intelligence officials blamed Pakistan for strained ties, claiming that it was trying to have it both ways by cooperating with US counter-terrorism efforts while maintaining ties with Taliban groups.
In separate interviews to the official Voice of America radio, ex-Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said Pakistan was trying to use Taliban groups to maintain influence in Afghanistan.
Both men, however, also praised Pakistan for its counter-terrorism cooperation.
Mr Hayden noted that the country had been a “powerful” counter-terrorism partner and that the United States had captured more senior Al Qaeda personnel with the help of Pakistani than of any other nation.