Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pakistani Official Harassment of U.S. Mission Has "Reached New Levels Of Intensity"

U.S. Embassy employee at roadblock in Peshawar, Pakistani news photo

Late this afternoon the State Department released the report of the Office of Inspector General's Compliance Follow-Up Review for Embassy Islamabad and constituent posts in Pakistan. The big take-away is the unprecedented levels of Pakistani official harassment of our mission and its employees.

U.S. official entities operating in Pakistan have long been subjected to unusual, government-initiated obstructionism and harassment. That harassment has reached new levels of intensity, however, after the events of 2011. The embassy describes the harassment as deliberate, willful, and systematic. While other diplomatic missions have experienced similar treatment, the United States is clearly the principal target. The harassment takes many forms: delayed visa issuances; blocked shipments for both assistance programs and construction projects; denials of requests for in-country travel; and surveillance of and interference with mission employees and contractors.

Details of that harassment were redacted before the report was released.

That's a lot of black ink, and it continues for another page and a half. So many details to obscure!

But the OIG report is perfectly clear about another matter: 

Based on its visit, the OIG team would not dispute the characterization of Peshawar in the 2010 inspection report as the most dangerous post in the world.

They have that right.


Federale said...

So why hasn't the Ambassador ordered staff to stop processing and issuing immigrant and non-immigrant visas to Pakistanis? Why hasn't he ordered all outstanding IVs and NIVs cancelled in response to that harrassment? Nothing would hit the Pakistani elite harder than no access to the United States.

TSB said...

Good question - what are we doing to arm-twist the Pakistanis? We might not have much leverage, since so long as we're committed to Afghanistan we make ourselves hostages to Pakistan. If it was up to me, I'd align ourselves with India and let Afghanistan go.

Anonymous said...

TSB: I like this post and agree with your point of view if you could add one thing: The "objective" of US policy in Pakistan seems to be to bring down the worthless democratic government and put the military and the ISI back where they were. Being a FSO in the middle of all that double dealing calls for some powerful medication! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Did you see this? Cost cutting is all the rage now in healthcare and the Brits are leading the way with the Liverpool Care Plan (LCP).
Started in 1998 and given the Gold Seal of Excellence in 2004, it has morphed into the ultimate cost saver:
Average time til death is only 33 hrs! (This is the 1st big peep about it from the totally bought off medical profession!) gwb

TSB said...

GWB: I wish we had a Pakistan policy that I could understand. A Paki politician said that our bilateral relations are like "an unhappy marriage in a country where divorce isn't legal." That much I can understand.

The British NHS sound like they're ahead of even the Dutch in euthanasia. Thirty-three hours? That's a speedy cure for life.

jc said...

Well, harassment was bad enough in the past - I hear that it's gotten worse (hard to believe).

Most folks staffing Peshawar had served in either Afghanistan or Iraq before. I wouldn't say that Peshawar is more dangerous than some of the PRTs in Afghanistan - certainly there were times and places in Iraq that were more dangerous (not so much now). But yeah, you can expect more danger than at any Embassy or Consulate.

TSB said...

jc: Thanks for your comment. PRTs in Afghanistan are definitely in the same league as Peshawar. In fact, the OIG is recommending that the Department view Peshawar as part of Afghanistan's 'near abroad' rather than part of Pakistan. Makes sense to me.