Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies have started targeting the Naval advisor in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Captain Peter Varghese, in the last two weeks, with at least six instances of his harassment being reported by the mission to the Pakistan government.
There have been 19 instances of harassment of Indian diplomats in Islamabad in the last two weeks, The Indian Express has learnt. They include Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, who went back to Islamabad after consultations, and new Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia. Sources said the instances included aggressive tailing, security personnel being questioned and hoax calls.
The sharp uptick in harassment of diplomats has prompted the Indian High Commission to raise the matter with Pakistan’s foreign ministry.
There were instances of harassment on both sides last year, which led to both sides agreeing to abide by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
The latest instances of harassment come in the wake of the tension between the two countries after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack and the retaliatory February 26 Balakot airstrikes.
According to sources, the Naval advisor — whose task is to liaise with Pakistan’s navy — was aggressively tailed by two Pakistani security agency personnel in a white Suzuki Swift (no. 1DJ 2855) on March 15, when he was going from his home to the High Commission. Earlier in the month, Pakistan had said that the Indian Navy had deployed submarines and ships near Pakistan’s maritime territory.
On March 14, two Pakistani security agency personnel were observed keeping watch outside the residence of Captain Varghese as he hosted a dinner at his residence. On March 11, Captain Varghese and Military Advisor Brigadier Sanjay P Vishwasrao were aggressively tailed by Pakistan’s agency personnel in a car no. AFH 202, while going from their residence to the High Commission and back.
On March 9 and 10, two Pakistan’s agency personnel were keeping surveillance in a car no AFN 202 during the weekend at the residence of the Naval advisor. On March 8, he was aggressively tailed by Pakistan’s security agency personnel in a car no. AFH 202, while going from the High Commission to his residence.
While two Pakistani agency personnel have been following Bisaria on a daily basis, two agency personnel approached the personal security officer of the High Commissioner —- who was admitted in a hospital due to ill-health — in an “intimidatory manner”.
Sources said it has also been observed that Pakistan’s security agency personnel are approaching the local security guards stationed at the Indian diplomats’ residence and pressuring them to divulge details about the officer’s movements.
On March 9, Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia was aggressively tailed by Pakistan’s security agency personnel on a motorbike no. TN 404, when he was going from his home to the market, and again from the Indian High Commission to the residence.
On March 10, Ahluwalia was aggressively followed by Pakistan’s security agency personnel on a bike no. RI 960 when he was going from his home to the market and back.
One of the diplomats has been receiving hoax calls from number 03061076692 and another staff member has been receiving calls from the number 02134372203.
These are among the key instances cited by the Indian High Commission in a note verbale to Pakistan’s foreign ministry on March 13 and 18.
Sources said that these incidents violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, and that the Pakistan government has been asked to ensure the safety and security of Indian diplomats.
“The ministry is requested to kindly investigate these incidents urgently and to instruct the relevant agencies that similar incidents do not recur,” the Indian High Commission’s note verbale said.