Pakistan recalls envoy from New Delhi over ‘harassment’, India downplays move

Pakistan recalls envoy over 'harassment', India downplays move
New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar during weekly media briefing in New Delhi on March 15, 2018. (Photo: Video Grab/IANS/MEA)

Islamabad/New Delhi: Pakistan has called back its High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood for consultation over “harassment” of its diplomatic staff and their families from New Delhi in a move downplayed by India on Thursday as “normal and routine”.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said they will hold consultations with Mahmood over “recent incidents of harassment of their diplomats” where they were “intimidated, vehicles transporting their children to schools had been stopped, gas supply to the embassy had been cut”.

In response, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “It is pretty normal for an Ambassador or a High Commissioner in any country — for example the resident Ambassadors and High Commissioners who are in India — to go back to their capital to hold consultations with the foreign office.

“This is pretty routine in nature,” Kumar said. “We, of course, have no comments to offer as to why the Pakistani High Commissioner has gone back.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry claimed that its Deputy High Commissioner’s car was chased and his driver abused by a group of men in the Indian capital last week.

“The total apathy and failure of the Indian government to put a halt to these despicable incidents, sparing not even young children, indicates both a lack of capacity to protect foreign diplomats posted in India or a more reprehensible, complicit unwillingness to do so,” Faisal said.

He alleged that India had not taken measures to safeguard Pakistani diplomats and their families in New Delhi.

Asked what steps New Delhi took following Pakistani protests, Kumar said: “We do not want to respond to these issues through the media but through established diplomatic channels. At this stage what I can share with you is that we are looking into the issues which have been raised by their side.”

He also said that the Indian High Commission in Pakistan was facing “a litany of issues” which have not been resolved for several months.

“We raised these issues in good faith through diplomatic channels and not through the media.

“We have asked for immediate resolution of these issues faced by our High Commission in Islamabad so that the safety and security of the diplomatic mission and our diplomatic and consular officials is assured.

“We would like our mission to function normally without any obstruction or harassment in keeping with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.”

Stating that New Delhi won’t give details of issues taken up with Islamabad, Kumar said: “I think it is very clear that it is something that should be taken up through the established diplomatic channels and not to be published in the media for wider dissemination.”