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They prefer to go incognito

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD APRIL 7 . Some of the diplomats in the Pakistani capital want to hide their identity, as, obviously, these are unusual times. In normal circumstances, diplomats buzz around the city with their CD cars bearing special numbers, advertising their status and immunity.

According to the Pakistani English daily, Dawn, diplomats from the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom have approached local authorities seeking withdrawal of their CD numbers. Instead they want their cars to bear the same number plates as ordinary citizens!

The reason is fear of reprisals from elements opposed to the military intervention by the U.S.-U.K. coalition in Iraq. "They (diplomatic mission officials) said amidst the prevailing situation in the country and keeping in view the public sentiments about war in Iraq, it had become a security risk to move around in vehicles carrying diplomatic number plates,'' the daily quoted an unnamed official in the administration as saying. It said that in response to the request made by the U.S. Embassy and the British High Commission, the Government had allowed allocation of local registration numbers for the vehicles used by the diplomatic missions and the staff.

In all, 150 numbers have reportedly been changed from IDS to IDM series in the two diplomatic missions in Islamabad. In the provinces, similar steps have been taken. The vehicles under the use of offices and attached departments of the U.S. Embassy and British High Commission will carry local registration numbers.

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