Thursday, May 31, 2018

Question Raised About Fatal Traffic Accident in Islamabad, Pakistan

The business end of the attaché's SUV (VOA photo)

Last Tuesday's State Department press briefing included a question from a Pakistani journalist about the status of the U.S. Defense and Air Attache who struck and killed a motorist in a traffic accident in Islamabad on April 7 and, after at first being denied permission to leave Pakistan, finally departed on May 15. The question concerned whether the U.S. government is conducting any kind of an inquiry.

From the press briefing transcript:
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you so much. Jahanzaib Ali from ARY News TV, Pakistan. Just wanted to get some update on already tense relations with Pakistan, while secondly an American diplomat was involved in a traffic accident in Islamabad, Pakistan. One person was injured there; another was seriously injured. We know that he got the diplomatic immunity in Pakistan but he’s now back in the town – Mr. Joseph, I think, the name of the American diplomat. So is there any kind of investigation at the department level on that?

MS NAUERT: I will have to look back into that for you and see what I can get for you on that one, okay? I don’t have any updates to provide beyond what we’ve provided already. Okay?

Whatever she gets for him on that one might not satisfy the Pakistani government, which appears to be under the impression that the U.S. government promised to initiate some kind of criminal or administrative action. At least, that's what Spokesperson Heather Nauert's counterpart at the Pakistan Foreign Office told his journalists on at least two occasions.

From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press briefing by the Spokesperson on 17 May 2018:
Question - Given the recent development of Colonel Joseph's release, we have seen a positive impact on Pak-US relations. In your view, how will the upcoming 7th FATF Session be a reflection of this positive streak in our relations post Col Joseph's departure from Pakistan? (Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publications)
Answer - Let me explain it. It is not that way. diplomats have diplomatic immunity while serving in the country of their accreditation. In this context, Col Joseph was allowed to leave the country based on this diplomatic immunity. The US has assured us that it will initiate criminal/administrative action against Col. Joseph in US courts.

And from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press briefing by the Spokesperson on 12 April 2018:
Question - What is the update on the investigations involving the US diplomat, who killed a Pakistani national last week? It is ironic that our Prime Minister is screened thoroughly without any protocols at an airport in the US, while a Pakistani national has been killed for more than a week and no action has been taken so far? (Fakhar Rahman - SAMAA TV)

Answer - On the last question, on 7th April, at around 1500 hours, a US Embassy vehicle driven by Colonel Joseph Emanual Hall, Defense and Air Attache of the US Embassy in Islamabad, was involved in a car accident on the 7th Avenue-Margalla Road junction that killed the motorcyclist (Mr. Ateeq Baig) on the spot and injured the co-rider (Mr. Raheel). FIR has been lodged and matter is under investigation at this stage. The Foreign Secretary has conveyed to the US Ambassador that justice will take its course in accordance with the law of the land and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961. The US Ambassador has assured the Foreign Secretary of full cooperation in this issue. We await results of the investigations before discussing the issue any further.

Regarding the fatal traffic accident, the facts look pretty clear, and it was captured by a traffic camera.

So, back to you Spokesperson Nauert, what do you have for us on that promised criminal or administrative proceeding?


Anonymous said...

That video clip did have some mysteries for me. I thought I saw a blinking red light up on the right and the two cones (which apparently are some kind of yield area), but I couldn't see the traffic pole directly above the car, nor do I know the local traffic rules in that place.
The car did seem to do a rolling stop at the cones and the motobike did not, but as I said I have no idea what local rules prevail.
Just from experience of long ago, it's was never a good idea to trust local legal systems to deliver justice, but that was long ago.

TSB said...

The camera angle isn't the best, but from local news stories and the police report it seems the attache's car went through a red light and hit the motorbike that was coming through the intersection on a green light. Like you said, he seemed to pause a bit before he drove through the intersection. Theoretically, we have an option, maybe an obligation, to punish him in the U.S. It's not often done, but there was at least one case of fatal drunk driving by a foreign diplomat in Washington DC where the offender was jailed in his home country.