Islamabad, Apr 12 (PTI) The United States and Pakistan are engaged in a diplomatic dispute that could lead to strict restrictions on the movement of their diplomats from May 1, according to a media report today.

The Trump administration has notified Pakistan that diplomats at its embassy in Washington and at consulates in other cities will not be able to travel beyond 40-km from their posts without permission, it said.

The notice, shared with the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and sent also to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, indicates that the restrictions could be imposed from May 1, if certain issues remained unresolved, the Dawn newspaper reported.

However, both the US State Department and the Pakistan Embassy have denied any restriction being imposed on the movement of diplomats, as of now.

In an email response, a US Statement Department spokesperson said “I can confirm that there are no restrictions on the travel for Pakistani diplomats in the United States.” When asked, if the restrictions could be imposed in the near future, the US official said: “Beyond that, we have nothing to announce at this time.” A spokesperson for the Pakistan Embassy in the US also gave almost an identical response, saying that so far, there were no restrictions on the movement of Pakistani diplomats in the US, but the embassy had no information about future restrictions.

The issue was also raised at the State Department’s briefing on Tuesday, when spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “I don’t have anything for you on that.” The report said that Pakistan had received the notification in mid-March and since then the two sides have had held several discussions on the issue, both in Islamabad and Washington.

The officials from both the countries, the US and Pakistan, however, made it clear that the notice had nothing to do with the case of an American military attache at the US embassy in Islamabad, who is charged with causing the death of a Pakistani national and injuring another in a road accident on Saturday last.

According to the notification, Pakistani diplomats will need to apply for a permission at least five days before an intended travel outside the imposed 4o km (25 miles) radius.

In their discussions with their Pakistani counterparts, US officials also pointed out that Islamabad has already imposed similar restrictions on the US diplomats in Pakistan, who are not allowed to visit the tribal belt or Karachi.

Pakistani officials, however, argue that those are not restrictions but security measures intended to protect American diplomats.

They also pointed out that the State Department too, does not allow its diplomats in Pakistan to visit the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Karachi and certain other places due to security reasons.

Pakistan says that restrictions on travelling to places like FATA can be removed, if Americans are satisfied with the security arrangements in those areas.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.