Pakistan calls back its envoy; India plays down issue, terms it routine

Pakistan on Thursday called back its High Commissioner in India Sohail Mahmood for consultations after "repeated incidence of harassment" of its diplomatic staff in New Delhi.

 Pakistan calls back its envoy; India plays down issue, terms it routine
File photo of Pakistan envoy to India Sohail Mahmood (R). (Photo courtesy: Twitter/@pid_gov)

New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that Pakistan deciding to call back its High Commissioner in India Sohail Mahmood was a routine affair.

"I am surprised why is this question being raised. It is not a recall. He has been called back for consultations. It is very normal and routine in nature," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

On the allegations of "repeated incidence of harassment" of its diplomatic staff in New Delhi by Pakistan, Kumar said that he would not like to comment on it in the media and the matter will be taken up through diplomatic channels. 

Upping the ante, Pakistan on Thursday called back its High Commissioner in India for 'consultations'. Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Faisal said that the Indian government had "failed to take notice of the increasing incidents of intimidation of Pakistani diplomats", their families and staffers by its intelligence agencies.

"Our High Commissioner in New Delhi has been asked to come to Islamabad for consultations," he said.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Office had summoned India's Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh over the alleged harassment of its officials and their families in New Delhi.

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 also 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)," PTI reported.

He said the Pakistan High Commission had 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.

"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," he said.

Faisal added that under the Vienna Convention, the safety and the security of Pakistani diplomats and their families is the responsibility of the Indian government.

He further claimed that in the latest incident, Indian officials stopped the car of the deputy high commissioner for 40 minutes and harassed the occupants of the vehicle.

(With PTI inputs)

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