Trade ministers of over 50 nations, including the US and China, have been invited by India to discuss issues related to agriculture and services.
Islamabad: Amid escalating tensions between India and Pakistan over alleged harassment of diplomats, Pakistan has pulled out of the two-day World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit that is to begin in Delhi on Monday.
Apart from the row involving envoys, Islamabad cited “atrocities” in Kashmir and Indian firing along the Line of Control (LoC) as reasons for its withdrawal from the meeting.
Foreign ministry officials said on Saturday that Islamabad has conveyed its decision not to send commerce minister Pervez Malik and his delegation to India for the WTO meeting on March 19-20.
Trade ministers of over 50 nations, including the United States and China, have been invited by India to discuss issues related to agriculture and services.
Pakistan had originally accepted the WTO summit’s invitation that was given as part of the December 2017 channel negotiations between the two national security advisors —Nasser Janjua of Pakistan and Ajit Doval of India.
Sources in the Pakistan foreign ministry said that the situation has changed now and the decision to skip the event was taken after “repeated harassment of families of diplomats” in Delhi.
“We cannot send our commerce minister toIndia in the current situation and India has been informed about it,” a ministry source said.
The ministry source said that India should also stop the alleged violations of the ceasefire on the LoC that lead to death of civilians and also stop “atrocities” in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s decision to stay away from the WTO meeting coincides with Islamabad calling its high commissioner to India Sohail Mehmood “for consultations” after alleged “harassment” of Pakistani diplomats.
Foreign office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner’s vehicle carrying his children was recently stopped for 40 minutes in New Delhi.
“The bullying is not confined to a single isolated event but continues unabated in a series of incidents,” he said.
Dr Faisal denied New Delhi’s allegation that similar incidents have occurred with Indian diplomats in Pakistan.
Islamabad is now considering the option of asking its diplomats to pull their children out of schools in India after the end of the current academic session in view of the harassment.
This week, Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif said that his country does not expect improvement in ties with India as New Delhi is sticking to a hostile policy towards Islamabad.
Mr Asif said, “India is violating the ceasefire agreement time and again on the LoC and working boundary. In such circumstances, we are not expecting improvement in relations between the two countries.”
He said that the alleged LoC violations were an attempt to divert the attention from the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Kashmir.
The foreign minister had told the National Assembly that India committed more than “400 ceasefire violations” along the LoC and the working boundary since January in which “18 civilians” were killed.