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Diplomacy

Harassment of Diplomats: Pakistan Recalls Envoy as India Plays Down Move

According to the Pakistan foreign office spokesperson, the Indian government has repeatedly been made aware of the incidents of intimidation, but there has been no action till now.

New Delhi: After Pakistan called back its envoy for consultation following repeated incidents of harassment of high commission staff, India played down the move as “routine in nature” and stated that it will not respond to these issues through the media.

On Thursday, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal announced, “Our high commissioner in New Delhi has been asked to come to Islamabad for consultations.”

He told reporters at the weekly briefing in Islamabad that the Indian government has repeatedly been made aware of the incidents of intimidation, but there has been no action till now.

In Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar expressed surprise that the temporary return of an envoy to headquarters for consultations should require a response from the host country.

“Frankly, I am a bit surprised as to why this question is being posed to me. Consultations by any resident ambassador/high commissioner with their headquarters is a matter for that country. It is pretty normal and routine in nature. We, of course, have no comments to offer on the news reports regarding the Pakistan High Commissioner,” said Kumar.

On the matter of the complaints mentioned by Pakistan, the MEA spokesperson said that India did not “wish to respond to these issues through the media but through established diplomatic channels”.

But, he did publicly for the first time say that Indian High Commission “is facing a litany of issues which have not been resolved for several months”.

He added that these issues were brought to the attention of the Pakistani authorities through the proper routes. “We raise these issues in good faith through diplomatic channels and not through the media”.

Kumar said that the India wants “immediate resolution” for the complaints of intimidation faced by Indian staff “so that the safety and security of our diplomatic Mission and its diplomatic and consular officials is assured”.

“We would like our Mission to function normally, without any obstruction or harassment, in keeping with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961,” he stated.

Indian sources had stated that there had been a series of occurrences which included the stoppage of official vehicles and unauthorised entries. Indian diplomats were also denied membership to Islamabad Club, which remains open to the rest of the diplomatic community.

According to sources, a ‘redline’ was crossed when there was an “ISI raid” into the residential complex and chancery service providers were stopped from continuing their work in February 15. Electricity and water had been cut off to the under-construction portion of the premises. Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria lodge a complaint when he met with the Pakistan foreign secretary Tehmima Janjua on February 16.

In Delhi, Pakistan high commission reported an escalating series of incidents from the second week of March. It included a similar pattern of contractors being stopped from providing services to the high commission, vehicles of officials being forcibly stopped and passengers being filmed by ‘unknown men’.

Pakistani media carried a clip of four helmet-wearing men on motorcycles following and filming a high commission vehicle. There had been two reported incidents of vehicles of senior diplomats being ‘intimidated’ when they were ferrying back children from school.

Pakistan had also invoked Vienna Convention and said that the security and safety of Pakistani diplomats and their families is the responsibility of the Indian government.