Pakistan today summoned US Ambassador David Hale and lodged a strong protest over the killing of a motorcyclist in a road accident involving a vehicle driven by a senior US diplomat.
A fast-moving Land Cruiser, driven by Col Joseph Emanuel Hall, the defence and air attache at the US embassy, jumped the red light and hit a motorcycle carrying two men at a traffic signal near Islamabad’s Daman-e-Koh area yesterday.
The motorcyclist, identified as Atiq Baig, 22, died due to a head injury while the pillion rider Raheel Ahmed received injuries.
To register its protest over the incident, the Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador Hale.
“The US ambassador was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today and a strong protest was lodged by the Foreign Secretary on the tragic death of the motorcyclist and serious injury to the co-rider in the traffic accident yesterday that involved a US diplomat, Foreign Office said in a statement.
It said that the US ambassador expressed his deep sympathy and sadness over the loss of life and assured that the embassy would fully cooperate in the investigation.
The foreign secretary conveyed that justice will take its course in accordance with the law of the land and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.
According to Dawn, the diplomat had tried to speed away after the accident, but he was stopped at a nearby checkpoint, where police tried to question him. He, however, refused to get off from the vehicle.
The area police arrived at the scene and asked the driver to surrender himself. Shortly, several locals and foreigners arrived there on different vehicles and introduced themselves as officials of the US embassy.
The diplomat asked the police to clear the way as he had diplomatic immunity, police said, adding that when they refused, the officials put up resistance.
Senior policemen then visited the spot and took the defence attache and his vehicle, as well as a colleague, to the Kohsar police station, the Dawn reported.
Police asked the other US diplomats to submit written statements about the accident and the diplomatic status of the suspect.
The US diplomat was later allowed to leave. The police, however, impounded the vehicle and took the diplomat’s cards for verification, the daily said.
A case was registered against the diplomat on the complaint of the victim father, who is a watchman at an Islamabad school. The injured man is his nephew.
The deceased’s family has demanded justice after the diplomat was not arrested as he enjoyed immunity under international laws.
Several people took to social media to protest against the favourable treatment given to the US diplomat, the Dawn said.
The police responded in a blog stating that they followed the due legal procedure and the attache had diplomatic immunity granted by the government of Pakistan as per Vienna Convention.
“If a blogger has objections on handing over of the diplomat to the embassy, he/she may approach the government of Pakistan to withdraw from Vienna Convention, the blog posted by the Capital City police said.
The incident is being compared with the 2011 incident when a CIA contractor Raymond Davis was arrested in Lahore on charges of killing two Pakistani citizens.
It kicked off a huge diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Pakistani authorities had charged him with murder, but the Obama administration insisted he is an “administrative and technical official” attached to its Lahore consulate and has diplomatic immunity.
Davis was later allowed to leave the country after a compromise was reached with the victims’ family.
This is the third road accident in recent years in which US diplomats have hit and killed people in Islamabad, the capital city police said, adding that they got away with it because they had diplomatic immunity.