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Pakistan calls home envoy in India for meeting to discuss diplomatic tensions

Pakistan has summoned its delegate in India back home for a meeting to discuss recent problems to do with the alleged harassment of diplomats.

Islamabad has asked high commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood to return to the Pakistani capital for an unspecified time. India and Pakistan are in the middle of a main diplomatic spat with both sides  accusing each other of harassing, even intimidating, diplomats.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office agent Muhammad Faisal said that the Indian government failed to take notice of the incrementing incidents of intimidation of Pakistani diplomats, their families and staffers by its intelligence agencies.

While Pakistan on Tuesday issued a demarche to India saying it was becoming difficult for its diplomats to function in Delhi, sources here said the present round of animosity was initiated by an ISI raid on a residential complex under construction for Indian diplomats in Islamabad. The ISI is Pakistan’s spy agency.

A group of 7-8 men raided the residential complex last month and disconnected the electricity and water supply to the property which is owned by India. Indian high commissioner in Pakistan, Ajay Bisaria, met the Pakistan foreign secretary on February 16 to strongly protest such “multiple acts of hooliganism” against Indian staff and property.

Despite the protest by Bisaria, the power supply wasn’t restored for over two weeks. Bisaria himself had his car intercepted recently in the middle of the road as he was prevented from attending an event, sources here said.

The Pakistan Foreign Ministry claimed that the staff and their families have been facing “harassment, intimidation and outright violence” from Indian state agencies in recent weeks.

Faisal today alleged that this deliberate continuing bullying was not confined to a single isolated event and “continues unabated despite repeated official protests lodged with the Indian High Commission here, and also with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs at the highest (level).”

He said the Pakistan High Commission shared with the External Affairs Ministry photographs identifying the individuals, who forcibly halted and took pictures of the officers but regrettably no positive action was taken by the Indian side so far.

Official sources in New Delhi didn’t confirm a report in Pakistani media that Islamabad had threatened to pull out family members of their diplomats but said India will investigate the allegations. They said that Indian diplomats and their family members were regularly harassed in the recent past by Pakistani authorities.

Indian diplomats meanwhile have repeatedly complained about having to deal with unauthorized entry into their premises and also random interception of their cars. In one case, unidentified men are said to have broken into an Indian official’s home and stole his laptop.

The government, as a source said, has also not taken kindly to the fact that Islamabad Club has sought to deny membership, which is open to all diplomats, to Indian high commissioner Bisaria and other Indian diplomats.

Pakistan’s interior ministry is yet to issue the no-objection certificate required for the membership given to Indian diplomats. “Harassment is the new normal for Indian high commission personnel in Islamabad,” said a source here.

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