2 Indian high commission staffers missing in Pakistan; tit-for-tat action suspected
Two Indian high commission staffers posted in Islamabad have gone missing on Monday morning, people familiar with the developments told Hindustan Times. It is suspected that the two staffers may have been picked up by Pakistani security agencies to frame them as spies.
India has very strongly raised the disappearance of the two staffers, both in Pakistan and New Delhi, a senior official said. “The Pakistani side has claimed that they are still looking into the matter,” a senior government official said.
ALSO WATCH | India expels two Pakistan High Commission officials over espionage charges
The Pakistani move is seen as a tit-for-tat for the expulsion of two Pakistan high commission officials who were recently caught for spying.
Officials said the two Indian staffers posted at the Islamabad mission had stepped out for some work on Monday morning. When they did not reach their destination, high commission officials informed New Delhi and Pakistan’s foreign office.
The Pakistani action comes just about a fortnight after Delhi Police caught three staffers of the Pakistan high commission in Delhi on a charge of trying to obtain classified information on the Indian security establishment.
Abid Hussain Abid, 42, an assistant in the Pakistani mission and Mohammad Tahir Khan, 44, a clerk, were expelled following their detention. The third was a driver, Javed Hussain, 36.
They had been in touch with three army personnel and one railways official and were trying to get information about Indian army troop movements.
Abid and Khan, who both work for the visa section at the Pakistani mission, were expelled from the country on May 31.
Officials said Pakistani agencies started harassment of high commission officials in Islamabad soon after.
Indian diplomats, including chargé d’affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia, have been harassed and aggressively tailed by Pakistani security personnel. High Commission officials have also complained about intimidating behaviour by the Pakistani personnel outside their residences.
India has been shooting note verbales to Pakistan’s foreign office ever since, reminding Islamabad that the behaviour of its security personnel violates the letter and spirit of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 and the 1992 pact between the two countries that lists the code of conduct for treatment of diplomatic and consular personnel. The last one was sent on Friday.
A senior official in New Delhi said Pakistani intelligence personnel were notorious for using strongarm tactics including use of physical assault, a sharp contrast to the detailed investigations that were carried out in New Delhi before ordering expulsion.