ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday recalled its high commissioner to India following a string of ‘harassment’ incidents with the diplomats in New Delhi.
Speaking at a weekly press briefing, Foreign office Spokesperson Dr Faisal said Sohail Mahmood has been summoned for consultations over the recent incidents of harassment of the embassy staff. He said the government has also registered protest with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad as well as the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi against incidents as well as lack of efforts by the Indian government on this account.
Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office to lodge a protest on the ‘maltreatment being meted out to the officials and families of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi’.
Faisal said the Indian government didn’t take any measures to safeguard Pakistani diplomats and their families in India. He claimed that photographs identifying individuals involved in harassment had also been submitted to the Indian External Affairs Ministry. “The total apathy and failure of the Indian government to halt these despicable incidents, sparing not even children, indicates both a lack of capacity to protect foreign diplomats posted in India or a more reprehensible, complicit unwillingness to do so,” the spokesman said. “Under the Vienna Convention, the safety and the security of Pakistani diplomats and their families is the responsibility of the Indian government.”
The Foreign Ministry in a statement on Tuesday had said that the staff and their families have been facing harassment, intimidation and ‘outright violence’ from Indian state agencies in recent weeks. At least three incidents of harassment of Pakistani diplomats and their families at the hand of Indian authorities have surfaced in New Delhi so far. In one incident, a Pakistani High Commission vehicle was trailed by motorcyclists and its path obstructed by another car. Video footage of the occurrence has been released which shows men in South Delhi wearing helmets, riding the motorcycles very close to the embassy vehicle, and also intimidating other drivers on the road who tried to intervene.
In another incident, the children of the deputy high commissioner were stopped while going to school and their driver was harassed.
In its reply to Pakistan’s protest last week, India had said, “We make all efforts to provide a safe, secure and hospitable environment for diplomats to work.” “But Indian officials have to face tremendous harassment in that country. Harassment is the new normal for Indian High Commission personnel in Islamabad,” the Indian foreign ministry had claimed in a statement.
“Our diplomats in Islamabad faced harassment for long, particularly in the last year, but rather than flag the cases in the media, they chose to tackle them with quiet and persistent diplomacy,” the statement maintained. “On 16 February, the high commissioner of India met the foreign secretary of Pakistan to lodge a strong protest against multiple acts of hooliganism against Indian properties and personnel,” it alleged, further claiming that the homes of Indian officials were broken into, the power supply snapped and often laptops were stolen.