2 high commission officials missing in Pak to be released, India told after strong demarche
The Indian High Commission has been told by Pakistan that the two staffers were at a police station in Islamabad and were being released.Updated: Jun 15, 2020, 20:20 IST
The two Indian high commission officials in Pakistan who had gone missing early on Monday will be released soon, the Indian mission has been told by Pakistani authorities, people familiar with the development told Hindustan Times on Monday. Pakistan’s decision to hand over the two Indian staffers was conveyed minutes after Pakistan’s charge d’affaires Syed Haider Shah was summoned to the external affairs ministry in New Delhi and told that it was the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to ensure the safety and security on the Indian staffers.
Nearly seven hours after they went missing, reports emerged in the Pakistani media that the two officials had been arrested in a hit-and-run road accident.
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In a strong demarche that referred to media reports on the arrest of the two high commission staffers, the external affairs ministry had told Haider Shah that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials. India also underlined that it was Pakistan’s responsibility to ensure safety and security of the Diplomatic Mission’s personnel.
“The Pakistani side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately,” a government source told Hindustan Times.
Soon after, the Indian high commission received word from the authorities that the two staffers were being held at a police station in Islamabad. “It has been conveyed to the high commission that they can pick up the two Indian officials,” the source said.
The two officials were reported missing by the Indian high commission earlier on Monday morning after they left the mission premises in a car but did not reach their destination. For the next six to seven hours, the external affairs ministry in New Delhi and the high commission in Islamabad repeatedly flagged the case to Pakistan’s foreign office. But Pakistani foreign office did not give any details, claiming that they were still “looking into the matter”.
The first confirmation that the two officials had been picked up by Pakistani security agencies came on Monday evening after Pakistan media reported the detention of the two staffers in what was described as a “hit-and-run” case.
Indian officials had suspected that the high commission staffers had been picked up by Pakistan’s security agencies when they went missing earlier in the day. Their detention was suspected to be a case of tit-for-tat since New Delhi had expelled two officials posted in Pakistan high commission for espionage.