Harassment is the new normal for Indian high commission personnel in Islamabad.
New Delhi: Another huge diplomatic spat has hit Indo-Pak relations, this time pertaining to “harassment” of diplomats and their families, with both sides lodging protests on the matter with each other.
Indian government sources said “harassment is the new normal for Indian high commission personnel in Islamabad” for the past more than one year, with the Indian high commissioner lodging a strong protest nearly a month ago on February 16 with Islamabad “against multiple acts of hooliganism against Indian properties and personnel”.
Sources added that “in view of such an atmosphere of intimidation, most families have returned to India and children have been withdrawn from schools”.
Sources said “India’s residential complex in Islamabad was raided by Pakistan agencies who expelled all Pakistani service providers and later disconnected power and water supply” and that “despite the (Pakistani) foreign secretary’s assurance, the power supply was not restored for over two weeks”.
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.
Pakistan ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) sources, meanwhile, also alleged harassment of Pakistani diplomats in New Delhi, saying that there have been “six incidents of harassment reported in a span of three days” following which a “note verbale” was issued to India.
Pakistani MoFA sources also said the Pakistani high commissioner in New Delhi had met officials of India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) in New Delhi and raised the matter, adding that in one incident on Thursday, the children of Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner were going to school in a car when it was “chased by a motorcycle and another vehicle” after which unidentified men took the driver off and hurled abuses.
Meanwhile, Pakistani media reports cited Pakistan government sources as saying that “it is becoming difficult for the Pakistani diplomats posted in India to keep their families with them due to increase in harassment incidents”.
Indian government sources said the Pakistani complaints would be “investigated”, adding that while New Delhi “makes all efforts to provide a safe, secure and hospitable environment for diplomats to work in”, “this cannot be said of Islamabad, unfortunately”.
On Sunday, Indian government sources said, “The Indian high commission in Pakistan has been facing tremendous harassment for long, particularly in the last year.
Harassment is the new normal for Indian high commission personnel in Islamabad. In view of such an atmosphere of intimidation, most families have returned to India and children have been withdrawn from schools.”