U.S. Embassy Officer in Pakistan Is Charged With Obstruction


Protesters staged a rally this month demanding a trial for the American diplomat involved in a fatal car crash in Islamabad. The American, Col. Joseph E. Hall, has diplomatic immunity.Credit B.K. Bangash/Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The police in Pakistan have charged a United States Embassy security officer with seeking to obstruct an investigation into a car accident involving an embassy vehicle, police officials said on Monday, adding to diplomatic tensions days after an American military attaché was barred from leaving the country over a separate collision.

The arrest was made after an American diplomat’s Toyota hit and injured two people on a motorcycle in Islamabad on Sunday evening, the police said. The injured people were hospitalized, and the diplomat, identified as Second Secretary Chad Rex Ausburn, was briefly detained before being released after the Foreign Ministry confirmed his diplomatic credentials.

But the police said that Taimur Iqbal Pirzada, a security adviser for the American Embassy, sought to obstruct an investigation of the accident and to stop officers from taking the diplomat and his vehicle to a police station. Mr. Pirzada was charged with obstruction and with using assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from carrying out duties. He was released on bail on Monday after appearing in court.

U.S. Embassy Officer in Pakistan Is Charged With Obstruction
U.S. Embassy Officer in Pakistan Is Charged With Obstruction

The Islamabad police also registered a case of reckless driving against the motorcycle driver, Nazakat Aslam, on Monday.

A spokesman for the American Embassy in Islamabad was not available for comment.

The accident over the weekend follows an episode this month that drew attention on social media as well as street protests. Pakistani officials say the American Embassy’s military attaché, Col. Joseph E. Hall, ran through a red light in an upscale Islamabad neighborhood on April 7, crashing into a motorcycle and killing a passenger. As a result, Colonel Hall has been barred from leaving Pakistan, and officials have demanded that the United States waive his diplomatic immunity so that he can face a criminal trial.

American officials have refused.

Alice Wells, a senior State Department official, visited Islamabad to discuss the case with senior Pakistani officials, but the diplomatic tussle remains unresolved and ties between the two countries appear increasingly frayed. Even if the driver of the motorcycle in the accident Sunday evening is found to have been at fault, the second inquiry could complicate that diplomatic crisis.

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