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India, Pakistan trade charges on harassment of diplomats, their families

Two Indian officials pointed to a series of incidents allegedly indicating harassment of Indian diplomats in Islamabad. Pakistan, too, threatened to pull out the families of diplomats from India.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2018 07:31 IST
Jayanth Jacob and Imtiaz Ahmad
Jayanth Jacob and Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Islamabad
India,Pakistan,diplomats
Ties between India and Pakistan have been particularly strained over the last few months over increased ceasefire violations across the Line of Control and the treatment meted out to an Indian prisoner in Pakistan Kulbhushan Jadhav.(Raj K Raj/HT File Photo)

India and Pakistan have accused each other of ill-treating diplomats and their families, including by “intimidation” and “harassment”, people familiar with the developments said on Sunday.

Pakistani newspaper Dawn, quoting unnamed sources, reported on Saturday that a demarche was made to the Indian high commission in Islamabad and the external affairs ministry in Delhi in which Pakistan threatened to pull out the families of diplomats from India.

“It is becoming difficult for the Pakistani diplomats posted in India to keep their families with them due to increase in harassment incidents,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Neither India nor Pakistan issued any formal response to these developments, but officials in India countered that it was Pakistan which was making the lives of Indian diplomats and their families in that country difficult.

Officials said that India, too, had apprised Pakistan of these “problems and threats”.

Read more | Kulbhushan Jadhav’s story amounts to a déjà vu of India-Pakistan diplomatic lows

Two Indian officials, who asked not to be named, pointed to a series of incidents allegedly indicating harassment of Indian diplomats in Islamabad -- forcibly stopping high commission vehicles, hampering the work of a residential project, threatening a contractor who maintains the Indian chancery building.

In one case, an official’s home was broken into and a laptop stolen while the high commissioner’s car was recently stopped by Pakistan agencies in the middle of a busy road to prevent him from attending an event, they said.

They said this was in contrast with the facilities India provided the Pakistani high commission.

The Indian high commissioner in Islamabad met the foreign secretary of Pakistan on February 16 to lodge a strong protest against multiple acts of hooliganism against Indian properties and personnel, officials said.

The Indians maintained there was a “continuous pattern” to this harassment. Membership to certain Islamabad clubs, open to all diplomats, were not being given to those from India, said one of the officials quoted above.

Meanwhile, a Pakistan foreign official, who asked not to be named, pointed to incidents over the past three days in which the children of Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner were stopped on their way to school, and a car of another diplomat was “chased and scratched”.

Read more | An uneasy truce: India, China balance decades-old strategic mistrust with diplomacy

The official quoted above, who said that the Pakistan high commission had sought a meeting with the ministry of external affairs this week, alleged that a total of six incidents of harassment were reported by Pakistani diplomats in a span of three days.

Ties between India and Pakistan have been particularly strained over the last few months over increased ceasefire violations across the Line of Control and the treatment meted out to an Indian prisoner in Pakistan Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The latest row came at a time when the two sides were looking to break the ice by exchanging prisoners – women, the elderly, and the mentally feeble – being held in each other’s countries.

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 23:19 IST