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Friday, July 10, 2020

Two missing staffers in Pak return after India protests

Sources said the demarche — a protest lodged through diplomatic channels —“to the Pakistan CDA (charge d’affaires) made clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials”.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: June 16, 2020 6:26:09 am
India pakistan, indian diplomats missing, india high commission pakistan, indian diplomats in pakistan India and Pakistan downgraded their diplomatic ties in August last year, after the revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370

TWO STAFFERS of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan, who went “missing” for most of Monday, have “returned” after India summoned Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah and issued a demarche, sources told The Indian Express.

Pakistani media reports claimed that the two staffers had been arrested in Islamabad after their vehicle hit a pedestrian. Sources said the two “went missing in the morning”, but later returned and have undergone a medical examination.

Sources said the demarche — a protest lodged through diplomatic channels — “to the Pakistan CDA (charge d’affaires) made clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials”.

“Responsibility for the safety and security of the diplomatic personnel lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities. The Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately,” sources said.

Pakistan TV channel Geo News claimed that Islamabad Police had arrested the two staffers for allegedly attempting to flee after the “accident”.

In its report, Geo News cited eyewitness accounts to claim that “a BMW car hit a pedestrian who was walking on the embassy road at around 8 am and attempted to flee”.

The report claimed that while “the pedestrian was critically injured and shifted to a hospital…the car was stopped by a huge crowd of people who handed over the two men to Islamabad Police”.

The latest incident comes 10 days after reports emerged of ISI personnel chasing a vehicle in which India’s Acting High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia was travelling in Islamabad.

Sources in New Delhi had said at the time that the harassment of Indian personnel and obstruction in discharge of their normal functioning is “being taken up through established diplomatic channel”.

Earlier, on May 31, India had expelled two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on charges of spying — the first time since 2016 that such a move was taken.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had identified the two Pakistan officials as Abid Hussain and Muhammad Tahir and said they were “were caught redhanded by police while obtaining documents of a Indian security establishment from an Indian and handing him over money and an iPhone”.

Subsequently, Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Shah was issued a demarche in which a “strong protest” was lodged on the activities of these officials “against India’s national security”.

India and Pakistan downgraded their diplomatic ties in August last year, after the revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 — both countries recalled their High Commissioners. Their High Commissions are currently led by Deputy High Commissioners.

In October 2016, amid an atmosphere marked with suspicion and mistrust, New Delhi and Islamabad had expelled each other’s High Commission officials.

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