NOC! NOC! Who’s there? Ambassador Munter Stopped at Pakistani Airport Over NOC, What’s Next?

The US reportedly lodged a strong protest with Pakistani authorities after ambassador Cameron Munter was stopped at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport and asked about a “no-objection certificate” for travelling outside Islamabad.  He was travelling to Karachi, and the officials were supposedly enforcing a rule that requires “all” foreign diplomats to have a “no-objection certificate” or NOC for travelling outside the capital city.

Over the weekend, VOA also reported that diplomatic sources said that the U.S. embassy in Islamabad received a letter from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry last month setting new limitations on when and how diplomats can move outside the capital. The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the letter, says the communique requires all U.S. diplomats to apply for special permission to leave the city five days in advance.

Oh dear! Something to remember about frienemies, the claws are never too far away. Makes one wonder what’s next?  Quarantine the embassy’s diplomatic mail and require a “no objection certificate” for every box from 

Below Ambassador Munter enjoying a camel ride in Karachi’s Clifton Beach. I wonder if Pakistan will now post officials at the beaches to enforce this rule that requires all foreign US diplomats to have a “no-objection certificate.”

Ambassador Munter at Clifton Beach on the Arabian Sea
in Karachi, Pakistan

Don’t be surprise if things are not going to get better anytime soon. This rather expensive “ally” in South Central Asia is still sore for the Bin Laden kill. It will find a way to let our folks there know just how sore they are. Today it’s the NOC, tomorrow, it will be something else; like — permission to shake hands with a Pakistani national?

But there is a solution to this. It’s called “reciprocity” or if you want it straight, a tit for tat. If Pakistan requires a NOC for any travel by US diplomats outside of Islamabad, the US can require the equivalent of a NOC for any travel by Ambassador Husain Haqqani and other Pakistani diplomats outside of Washington, D.C. Yes, including travels to Maryland and Virginia, of course. 

But an even simpler solution? Wrap up Afghanistan 2.0 and bring the troops home. No more logistics/supply chain to worry about, period.  Hamid Karzai can go ahead and do his own nation-building without the “occupiers” that he loves one day and hates the next. Pakistan can continue worrying about India and its regional headaches; and China will be there to provide the aspirin. 

Of course, our hawks in Congress would have a fit.  They are still ever willing to burn a hole in the U.S. Treasury’s pocket. Hungry children in America, forgetaboutthem.  Talk your heads off about the debt ceiling; there is no such thing as a war ceiling if some of our folks in DC have their way. And just so you know, our job creators are hard at work in the war zones and in the wars of the future not yet drawn but already imagined.