It was only recently that our officials instructed the foreign diplomatic staff to stick to the diplomatic norms and seek prior permission from the Foreign Office before meeting local officials. Looks like the American diplomatic staff consider themselves under no obligation to observe this diplomatic norm. They choose to ignore even instructions as clear-cut as this and have, apparently, got away with it too. The latest violation came from the Principal Officer of the US Consulate in Peshawar, E. Candace Putnam. Ms. Putnam has been openly meeting government officials and heads of law enforcement agencies without bringing the matter to the knowledge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as reported in The Nation. In her usual fashion, Ms. Putnam requested a meeting with the NWFP Chief Minister without getting prior clearance from the Foreign Office. As per rules, the CM Secretariat asked her to obtain the required clearance but she reached the Secretariat without doing so. At this, the Principal Staff Officer at the CM Secretariat immediately contacted Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sought permission for the meeting, which was granted by the Ministry via fax within minutes. If officials in our Foreign Ministry want to have some sort of credibility, at least in this case, they should have refused to grant almost instant permission. I suppose they did not want to take the risk of incurring displeasure of the American officials. This kind of submissive attitude, though, only encourages foreign diplomats to take further liberty, which has already gone well beyond the tolerable limits. -S.R.H. HASHMI, Karachi, November 8.