Reduce staff in high commission by 50% within 7 days: India tells Pak

The Pakistan High Commission was informed about the decision which was based on instances of alleged involvement of Pakistani officials in "acts of espionage" and dealings with terrorists

Pakistan High Commission, Indian High Commission, India, Pakistan, Ministry of External Affairs
Tuesday’s move by India came after two Indian High Commission staffers were detained by Pakistani authorities for several hours on June 15. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday (June 23) asked Pakistan to reduce staff in its high commission in New Delhi by half within the next seven days and announced a reciprocal trimming of Indian strength in Islamabad, in a significant downgrading of diplomatic ties.

The MEA said the Charge d Affaires of Pakistan High Commission was summoned and informed about the decision which was based on instances of alleged involvement of Pakistani officials in “acts of espionage” and dealings with terrorist organisations.

In a statement, the MEA also cited the recent abduction of two Indian officials in Islamabad and the “barbaric treatment” meted out to them by Pakistani agencies as reasons for downgrading of the diplomatic ties.

“The behaviour of Pakistan and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials. On the contrary, it is an intrinsic element of a larger policy of supporting cross-border violence and terrorism,” the MEA said.

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Related news: Pakistan authorities release two Indian High Commission staffers

Therefore, it said, India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50 per cent.

“It would reciprocally reduce its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion. This decision, which is to be implemented in seven days, was conveyed to the Pakistani Charge dAffaires,” it added.

The MEA said the Charge d Affaires of Pakistan High Commission was summoned to the ministry and informed that India had repeatedly expressed concern about the activities of officials of his High Commission.

“They have been engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terrorist organisations. The activities of the two officials caught red-handed and expelled on May 31 was one example in that regard,” it said.

It said Pakistan has engaged in a sustained campaign to “intimidate” the officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad from carrying on their legitimate diplomatic functions.

“The recent abduction at gunpoint of two Indian officials and their severe ill-treatment underlines the extent to which Pakistan has gone in that direction,” it said.

“These officials who have returned to India on 22 June 2020 have provided graphic details of the barbaric treatment that they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies,” the MEA added.

Pakistan had expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad following India’s decision to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year.

Related news: Two missing Indian High Commission officials in ISI custody: Report

Five officials of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan, including the two who were arrested and later released in an alleged hit-and-run case there, returned to the country through the Attari-Wagah border on Monday, officials said.

According to them, those who returned are Air Adviser Group Capt Manu Midha, Second Secretary S Shiv Kumar and staff members Pankaj, Selvadhas Paul and Dwimu Brahma.

Dwimu and Selvadhas were arrested on June 15 in Pakistan in the alleged hit-and-run incident. Both were later released.

After the incident, India had summoned the charge d affaires of the Pakistan High Commission, lodging a protest over the “abduction and torture” of two officials of the Indian mission in Islamabad.

The five officials travelled to the Wagah check-post in a car. They underwent thermal screening and preliminary medical check-up before proceeding to Delhi, the officials said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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