India and Pakistan have agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats after envoys of the two countries made claims and counter-claims about harassment of each other’s diplomats, the government today informed Rajya Sabha.
V K Singh, minister of state in the External Affairs Ministry, said India and Pakistan agreed on March 30 to resolve the issues in line with the 1992 ‘Code of Conduct’ for treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan.
The Code provides for “smooth and unhindered functioning” of the diplomatic and consular officials of the two countries in conformity with international laws without violating their privileges and immunities.
It also says that the two countries should not resort to intrusive and aggressive surveillance and actions such as verbal and physical harassment, disconnection of phone lines, etc.
“The Government of India has, from time to time, taken up the incidents of harassments, aggressive surveillance and intimidation of the officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and also the obstacles placed in the early completion of residential complexes for the Indian High Commission officials,” Singh said in a written response to a question.
Pakistan was asked to resolve the issues and ensure the safety of Indian diplomatic missions and officials, he said.
Last month, India had asked Pakistan to ensure safety and security of its officials working at the Indian mission in Islamabad, saying they continue to face harassment and “intimidation”.
In its 16th note verbale, a diplomatic communication, to the Pakistan foreign ministry on March 22, the Indian High Commission specifically mentioned three incidents of harassment of senior officials.
Pakistan had claimed that there had been as many as 26 instances of harassment and intimidation of its diplomats since March 7, following which Islamabad called back its high commissioner Sohail Mahmood to discuss the issue.
In response to another question on whether the government has adopted a policy of holding talks with neighbours, including Pakistan and China, to settle disputes, Singh said the process of bilateral engagement with India’s neighbours is a continuous and on-going process.
This, he said, is reflected in the government’s continuing political outreach, joint initiatives and people-to-people contacts with neighbouring countries.
Singh said India and Pakistan had agreed to hold a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue in December 2015 and the foreign secretaries were mandated to finalise the modalities of the dialogue.
However, the dialogue did not happen because of the Pathankot Air Base terrorist attack on January 2, 2016, and intensification of cross-border terrorism, the minister said.
“The government has conveyed that it is committed to resolving all issues peacefully in keeping with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility and violence. Onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere,” he said.
On China, Singh said New Delhi and Beijing are working towards utilising their bilateral dialogue mechanism to promote mutually beneficial cooperation, and enhancing communication at all levels in order to build greater trust and understanding.
India and China have a long-pending territorial dispute.