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Diplomacy

After Indian Diplomats Complain of Harassment, Pakistan Protests Unfair Treatment of Its Officials

Pakistan claims six of its diplomats were harassed in New Delhi in a span of three days.

Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, India. Credit: Facebook

New Delhi: The India-Pakistan playbook for coercion of diplomats is being followed assiduously. After a series of ‘harassment’ incidents against Indian diplomats, Pakistan has complained that there has been six cases of intimidation of its officials within three days in Delhi.

According to sources, Indian diplomats have faced continuing harassment of serious nature. They are listed as forcible stoppage of vehicles belonging to the Indian high commission, intimidation and unauthorised entry.

Apparently, the chancery’s contractor was threatened and told to close his services to the Indian high commission.

Local security guards employed at the high commission in Islamabad were evidently told by Pakistani security agencies that they should not let any Pakistani citizen visit the chancery, which directly impacts the operations of a diplomatic mission, sources claimed.

India is also constructing a new residential complex within the premises, but Pakistan has still not issued visas for Indian companies involved in the project. Rather, sources insisted, the main contractor was intimidated and told to end his work. Further, water and electricity supplies were disconnected.

Indian diplomats have also not been given membership of the Islamabad Club, which is open to all diplomats.

According to sources, the harassment has been going on for over a year. It has been brought to the attention of the Pakistani government, but there has been no change in circumstances, they said.

Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistan. Credit: Facebook

For India, a red line was crossed in February, when there were intrusions into the complex and utilities were switched off.

In New Delhi, Pakistani officials began to report incidents of ‘coercion’ after a senior official’s car was stopped and the vehicle was scratched in Chanakyapuri on March 7. A complaint was lodged with the ministry of external affairs (MEA) about the incident.

A day later, Pakistani deputy high commissioner’s vehicle was chased by a motorcycle and a car, claimed Pakistani foreign office sources. At that time, his children were being ferried to school in the car. Abuses were apparently hurled at the driver, after he was asked to exit the vehicle.

On the same day (March 8), the vehicle of the Pakistan high commission’s minister political was also chased and scratched.

Pakistani high commissioner Sohail Mahmood sought an urgent meeting with MEA to report the increase in harassment of his officials.

After the meeting with MEA joint secretary in charge on Friday, Pakistani foreign office sources said that two more counsellors of the high commission “were harassed in the same manner as before”.

A note verbale was sent to MEA on March 9 about the uptick in harassment of Pakistani diplomats – six incidents in three days. Pakistan high commission in Delhi has around 104 personnel, which includes diplomats and staff.

As per Pakistani foreign office sources, India has assured that it will take up the concerns with the appropriate authorities.

Calling it an “uncivilised act”, former president Asif Ali Zardari condemned the harassment of children of Pakistani diplomats. He asked his government to raise the matter with India.

Recently, India and Pakistan had agreed to revive the visits of the bilateral judicial committee and repatriate women and elderly prisoners. The move was based on a proposal made by the Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in October 2017 and then accepted by Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja M Asif. This had raised hopes that there would be a thaw in the relationship, but officials had said that there no such prospect in the near future.