(G.N.S) Dt. 12
The diplomatic spat between India and Pakistan has hit a new low. This time it is pertaining to harassment of diplomats and their families, with both sides lodging protests on the matter.
Coinciding tensions along the borders, the strained relationship between India and Pakistan has left their diplomats in the respective capitals worried. After Pakistan accused India of harassing its diplomats and their families and threatened to pull out the families, sources in Delhi said the staff at the Indian mission in Islamabad has been facing tremendous harassment for long, particularly in the last year.
They also mentioned multiple incidents of hooliganism against Indian properties and personnel in Islamabad. “India’s residential complex in Islamabad was raided by Pakistan agencies, who expelled all Pakistani service providers and later disconnected power and water supply,” they said. This has led most families to return to India and children have been withdrawn from schools.
The matter was brought to the notice of Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on February 16, by Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria. Despite Janjua’s assurance, the power supply was not restored for over two weeks, sources said, adding that Pakistan mission in India doesn’t face such disruptions. Harassment is the new low for Indian diplomats posted in the high commission in Islamabad, sources in Delhi said. A strong protest was lodged a month back with Islamabad against acts of hooliganism on Indian properties and personnel, the source also said.
They further said that Indian diplomats chose to tackle this matter with quiet and persistent diplomacy rather than raking a storm in the media. Authorities in India, however, said the issues raised by Pakistani mission of alleged harassment will be investigated. In view of such acts, several families have returned to India and children have been withdrawn from schools. India has also complained that Pakistan agencies had raided India’s residential complex who in turn expelled all Pakistani service providers and later disconnected power and water supply.
Earlier, Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn reported that a demarche was issued to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad against intimidation of its diplomats. “It is becoming difficult for the Pakistani diplomats posted in India to keep their families with them due to increase in harassment incidents,” said the newspaper quoting a source. It further added that harassment of families would not be tolerated at all. Indian government sources also said Pakistani security agencies are resorting to “aggressive surveillance, violation of physical space and tailing of officers in close and dangerous proximity”.
Indian government sources said the car of India’s high commissioner was stopped recently in a busy road to prevent him from attending an event, while another Indian diplomat’s house was broken into and a laptop stolen.
Sources in India said all efforts are made to provide a safe, secure and hospitable environment for diplomats to work in, unfortunately, this cannot be said of Islamabad.
“More troublingly, over the last few months, several High Commission staff have been severely harassed and intimidated. In one case, an official’s home was broken into and his laptop stolen. Harassment is the new normal for Indian High Commission personnel in Islamabad. The High Commissioner’s car was recently stopped by Pak agencies in the middle of a busy road to prevent him from attending an event,” the sources elaborated. They further said that in Islamabad aggressive surveillance, violation of physical space and tailing of officers in close and dangerous proximity is a perennial issue.
“India has repeatedly requested Pakistan to mutually ensure that High Commissions are allowed to do their job in an atmosphere free of harassment and intimidation, that staff be allowed to work, that construction projects get completed on time. We would like to continue the fine tradition of allowing diplomats to do their jobs,” sources added.
Pakistani sources pointed that over the past three days the children of Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner were stopped and harassed on their way to school. In another incident a senior diplomat was harassed while moving in Delhi. They alleged that their vehicles were being stopped on different pretexts and searched. Indian employees of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, he said, were also being stopped from coming to work.
(G.N.S) Dt. 12