Saturday, June 4, 2011

U.S. Consulate Peshawar Vehicle, Four Employees, Detained At Army Checkpoint

Local news media were present during a stand-off between four consulate employees and Pakistani military and police in Peshawar today. It appears to have been a standard exercise in harassment, with the military stopping and holding one of our vehicles, and our employees refusing to either get out of their car or to move it elsewhere. Once diplomatic identities were established, our employees were free to go.

Here's what the media reported about the four foreigners detained in Peshawar:

PESHAWAR: Army personnel detained four Americans after they were stopped at an army check post in Peshawar. However, they were allowed to leave after almost two hours.

According to Express 24/7 reporter Sumaira Khan, the foreigners travelling in a grey land cruiser were stopped at an army check post opposite the destroyed CID office after they failed to follow protocol.

FC Cantt. released a statement saying they men were released after official confirmation was received verifying the identities of the four men. Their passports and documents were in order.

A police officer on site said that the misunderstanding came about after the American officials failed to follow protocol. Given the current law and order situation, police and army personnel took every precaution to ensure the safety of foreigners in the area.

It was initially believed that these men were members of Blackwater or Xe corporation. The foreigners said they maintained that they were staff of the US consulate and lived in the diplomatic enclave.

It was later verified that the four men in fact belonged to the US embassy in Islamabad and were present lawfully in the country.

The number plate displayed on the back of their car, bearing numbers IDF 7582, was found to be fake.

The car also had another numberplate, one which is normally issued to diplomats, resting on their dashboard bearing numbers CD-64-164.

They refused to talk to either the media or Pakistani security officials present at the scene.

They had failed to follow protocol reserved for foreigners moving in the city.

US officials are supposed to inform police and intelligence officials.

The check post where they were stopped is near Gora Qabristan area of Peshawar and is in close vicinity of the destroyed CID office in Peshawar as well as an SSG paratroopers schools along with residences of FIA and intelligence officials.

[TSB note: the CID office was destroyed in a suicide attack by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan on May 26. It is located on Jamrud Road, very close to our consulate residences. There is nothing at all suspicious about consulate vehicles being there, despite insinuations by the local press about sensitive sites.]

Police and army officials released the men after official confirmation of their links with the US consulate was received. The four men had produced documents including a diplomatic passport, indicating that they were staff of the US consulate. Their visas were valid.

The had locked themselves in their car and were refusing to speak to security officials, waiting for a representative from the US consulate or the embassy.

It was two weeks ago that another consulate vehicle was ambushed with a roadside bomb while traveling in the vicinity of Jamrud Road.

Even without that photo above, I can easily imagine how the tension of living under constant threat from both terrorist groups and our host government's security services is wearing on our employees in Peshawar.


Anonymous said...

Who killed Syed Saleem Shahzad?
By Amir Mir

TSB: The reporter for ATimes who broke the story about Aquaeda being behind the navy base attack found tortured and killed 2 days later. This is like what happens in Mexico where anyone is a lot safer than someone who is nosing around to find out what is really going on.

Anonymous said...

Why is he not alive?
Eleven days before his untimely death, Syed Saleem Shahzad's new book was released: Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11. He was a journalist in the truest sense. He presented fact based on research, without his own opinion. Why then is he not alive?
- Susan Marie (Jun 1, '11)
TSB: I bought his book the day he was killed. It is really good! gwb

Smallbits said...

That is horrible. Will be keeping everyone there in my thoughts. I can't even imagine the stress they are dealing with.

GWB said...

By Chan Akya

"Assassination is the most extreme form of censorship"
George Bernard Shaw, in The Limits to Tolerance
TSB: This Atimes article offers insight into why ISI might have killed the atimes bureau chief and also how it might be connected to the "surge" in Pakistani nuke production. gwb

Yasir said...


Well, you forgot to mention some interesting facts like:

Why were these people in Peshawar if they are stationed at Islamabad?

Why they failed to inform any security / govt. official about their travel plans according to the define SoP / Protocol, if they are diplomats?

Why were they out in such a dangerous place at mid-night all by themselves?

Where were they coming from? Because they were entering peshawar city from the side which is opposite to Islamabad. It means that they were visiting some tribal area and were coming back from there!! thats a Big Question? thats actually a no-go-zone even for a normal Pakistani like me! how come US Embassy diplomats were moving there at mid-night so easily?

Media initially reported that the passports checked by police are not diplomatic passports, though this statement was later changed ! ( i guess due to Govt pressure!!

The funny thing that I noticed was that they all had beards to blend in as locals !! Now why would US Diplomats do that ?? :)

Things are not as simple as you have mentioned them ! :)



TSB said...


Thanks for your comment! Actually, I don't think things are very complicated or suspicious at all.

All U.S. diplomats in Pakistan are accredited to the embassy in Islamabad, no matter whether they work there or at a consulate such as Peshawar. These four live and work in Peshawar.

Where were they coming from and going to? Apparently they were coming from the consulate offices in the Cantonment and going to their homes in University Town. The two sites are just a few kilometers apart, on opposite sides of the airport. If they had been to and from a tribal area, then the police or FC would have encountered them long before they were on Jamrud Road.

Did they fail to inform the police of this routine office-to-home travel? I don't know. The news article quotes a police officer on the site saying so. If that's correct, then I'm sure the Pakistani government will take it up with the consulate.

Beards? They are popular with young men in America, including all three of my sons. They do not have a religious connotation outside of Muslim lands. I don't think that an American wearing a red T-shirt (and usually khaki cargo pants and a ball cap) and driving in a big Landcruiser is trying to blend in as a Pashtun tribesmen. Would he have fooled you?

The security situation is extremely difficult for everyone in Peshawar today. Hundreds of policemen, soldiers and Frontier Constabulary have been killed fighting extremists. The U.S. community has already survived multiple suicide attacks, roadside bombs, and kidnapping attempts. I'm inclined to give both sides the benefit of the doubt when they have a misunderstanding.

You may see things differently, and, if so, I respect your opinion.


GWB said...

That's why we appreciate your work TSB! It isn't possible to always be instantly right about these things.
And the other opinions are great to see too! gwb

Anonymous said...

US breathes life into a new cold war
By M K Bhadrakumar (Atimes 6/7/11)
TSB: This gas stuff is complicated but check out this article. exerpt: the confirmation by British auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates last week that Turkmenistan is sitting on the world's second-largest gas field - South Yolatan - completely changes the scenario. (Afghan President Hamid Karzai made an air dash to Ashgabat as soon as he heard the news.) -snip- In short, Turkmenistan has the proven capacity to meet the energy requirements of China, India and Pakistan for many decades to come, and would still be left with a surplus for exports gwb