The two Indian High Commission staffers in Pakistan, who were presumed missing since Monday morning, were released after they were arrested by Pakistani police for their alleged involvement in an “hit-and-run” accident.
The staffers were handed over to Indian High Commission officials, who had gone to take their custody.
The duo had left the High Commission in a vehicle for official duty at around 8:30 am (IST) and did not reach their destination, the sources said. India had since taken up the matter with its Pakistani counterparts to ensure the safety of the Indian officials.
Sources in Islamabad said “two Indian diplomats have been arrested by police authorities” after they were allegedly “involved in a road accident”. Both are security officials of India’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), assigned as security to the High Commissioner and other diplomats. The officials, as per police sources, “were over speeding when the accident occurred.”
However, there was no official communication from Pakistan.
At least one person has been injured in the accident, sources said, adding that as the two Indian staffers tried to flee, the locals stopped them. Later the police arrived and arrested both of them.
Following the disappearance of the Indian officials, the Ministry of External Affairs summoned Pakistan’s Chargé d’affaires to India, Syed Hyder Shah and lodged a strong protest over the reported arrest.
India also issued a demarche to the Pakistan charge d’affaires making it clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials and the responsibility for their safety and security lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities.
As per reports, the Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately.
According to sources quoted by PTI news agency, the MEA told the Pakistan’s Charge d’affaires to India that the responsibility of safety and security of Indian personnel in Islamabad “lays squarely with Pakistani authorities.”
Meanwhile, according to a report in Hindustan Times, the arrested Indian officials were kept under detention for almost 12 hours. They were reportedly picked up from a petrol station close to the high commission, blindfolded with a rucksack thrown over their heads and handcuffed.
The HT report also stated that the duo was taken to an unknown location about 10 minutes from the place where they were picked up and interrogated for about six hours. They were repeatedly beaten with rods and wooden sticks.
However, no official confirmation on the same has been made by the given by the Government.
The incident comes just days after two Pakistani officials of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi were caught for espionage and asked by India to leave the country after being declared persona non grata.
Also Pakistan’s Chargé d’affaires was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged over the activities of the two officials against India’s national security.
Thereafter, Pakistan has been trying a tit-for-tat, targeting to expel Indian High Commission officials from the country for one reason or another.
A few days back, the vehicle of India’s Charge d’affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia was chased by a member of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on June 4.
Last Friday, India registered protest in the form of a note verbale to Pakistan authorities. India has asked Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of the Indian High Commission and its staff and to allow them to resume their activities in keeping with the Vienna Convention.
India told Pakistan that the behaviour of its agencies violated Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and also the bilateral 1992 Code of Conduct which the two countries signed to provide diplomats immunity from hostilities in ties.
In March, the Indian High Commission in Pakistan had sent a strong protest note to the foreign ministry in Islamabad protesting against the continuing harassment of its officers and staff by Pakistani agencies.
According to the note, India cited 13 instances of harassment in the month of March itself and asked Pakistan to stop such incidents and investigate the matter.