Upping the ante over the alleged incidents of harassment of its mission staff in New Delhi, Pakistan on Thursday called back its High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood to Islamabad for consultations even as India refused to attach much significance to the action taken by the neighbouring country.
At a media briefing here, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said he was surprised why his reaction was being sought over Pakistan’s decision to call its envoy to Islamabad. “It’s pretty normal and routine in nature for High Commissioners/Ambassadors to go back to their countries for consultations. We, of course, have no comments to offer on the news reports regarding the Pakistan High Commissioner,’’ he added.
He said India was looking into the allegations made by the Pakistan High Commission that its diplomatic staff was facing harassment while pointing out that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad too had been facing a ‘litany’ of issues which New Delhi had taken up through established mechanisms but they remain unresolved.
“We raise these issues in good faith through diplomatic channels and not through the media. We have asked for an immediate resolution of these issues faced by our High Commission in Islamabad so that the safety and security of our diplomatic mission and its staff is assured. We would like our missions to function normally, without any obstruction or harassment in keeping with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,’’ the spokesperson added.
Asked whether India too proposed to call its envoy in Islamabad to New Delhi for consultations on the issue, the spokesperson said it would be done whenever the government felt the need to do so.
Earlier in the day, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal told the media in Islamabad that the government would hold consultations with its envoy in New Delhi over “recent incidents of harassing of their diplomats”.
Faisal claimed that the Indian government had not taken measures to safeguard Pakistani diplomats and their families in India, adding that Islamabad had lodged protests over the matter with Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh on 13 March as well as with India’s External Affairs Ministry.
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said its “staff and their families had been facing harassment, intimidation and outright violence from Indian state agencies in recent weeks in New Delhi”.
Responding to complaints by Islamabad, New Delhi had stated that “India makes all efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for diplomats to work in”. It added the Indian officials had also faced “harassment” last year in Pakistan but they chose to deal with it through “quiet and persistent diplomacy”.