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India details harassment of diplomats, kin in Pakistan

India and Pakistan have in recent days accused each other of ill-treating diplomats and their families.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2018 23:28 IST
Shishir Gupta and Jayanth Jacob
The note said that an Indian diplomat was harassed even on March 16, the day Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria met Pakistan foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua to raise the issue.
The note said that an Indian diplomat was harassed even on March 16, the day Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria met Pakistan foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua to raise the issue.(HT FILE PHOTO)

India on Friday issued its eleventh note verbale to Pakistan, detailing the harassment and ill-treatment of its diplomats in that country, and their families, signalling a further deterioration of ties between the two countries.

India and Pakistan have in recent days accused each other of ill-treating diplomats and their families.

The note said that an Indian diplomat was harassed even on March 16, the day Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria met Pakistan foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua to raise the issue.

The note added that there has also been no let-up in phone calls with ‘objectionable messages’ that Indian officials are receiving, two officials familiar with the developments said here.

According to the note, which has been seen by HT, Indian government websites are blocked in Pakistan, deterring the functioning of its diplomatic mission, including the issuing of visas.

This has forced the mission to use proxy servers, the note added. The diplomatic communication pointed out that: on March 16, a counsellor was followed by one vehicle with two people inside in “an intimidating manner”; and that three instances of harassment were reported on March 14, including the vehicle of a counsellor being aggressively followed by men on motorcycles in a market in Islamabad and another officer being closely followed and intimidated when he went to a super market.

The note’s reference to the blocking of Indian domains is the fourth since May last year.

It also mentioned that the doorbell of an Indian official was rung at 3 am to demand money.

India has issued note verbales on January 1 and 12, February 2, 16, 22, 26, and 27, and March 9, 11 and 12. Meanwhile, Islamabad said on Thursday that it was calling its high commissioner to India to the Pakistani capital to discuss the alleged ill-treatment of Pakistani diplomats and their families in New Delhi

External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar termed this nothing out of the ordinary and said New Delhi wants Islamabad to resolve the issues being faced by Indian staff and ensure their safety.

Responding to complaints by Islamabad, New Delhi assured Pakistan last week that “India makes all efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for diplomats to work in”. It added that Indian officials had also faced “harassment” last year in Pakistan but chose to deal with it through “quiet and persistent diplomacy”.