New Delhi: Pakistan on Thursday said it has decided to call back its High Commissioner in India, Sohail Mahmood, for consultations after repeated incidence of "harassment" of its diplomatic staff in New Delhi.
Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Faisal said that India failed to take notice of the increasing incidents of intimidation. "Our High Commissioner in New Delhi has been asked to come to Islamabad for consultations," he said.
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar played down the issue and clarified that it was not an official recall. “He has been called back for consultations. It is pretty normal for an ambassador to go back to his country. It is a routine thing. Indian ambassadors abroad are also called back for discussions frequently.”
Kumar said that India is looking into the issues raised by Islamabad, but said that at the same time, the Indian High Commission there has also been facing issues that were raised several months ago.
“We raised the issues through diplomatic channels in good faith. We would like our mission in Islamabad to function smoothly in line with Vienna convention. We have asked for resolution from Pakistan to ensure safety of Indian High Commission in Pakistan,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Office had summoned India's Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh over the alleged harassment of its officials and their families in New Delhi.
The Pakistan Foreign Ministry claimed that the staff and their families have been facing "harassment, intimidation and outright violence" from Indian state agencies in recent weeks.
Faisal on Wednesday alleged that this deliberate continuing bullying was not confined to a single isolated event and "continues unabated despite repeated official protests lodged with the Indian High Commission here, and also with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs at the highest (level)."
He said the Pakistan High Commission shared with the External Affairs Ministry photographs identifying the individuals, who forcibly halted and took pictures of the officers but regrettably no positive action was taken by the Indian side so far.
"The total apathy and failure of the Indian Government to put a halt to these despicable incidents, sparing not even young children, indicates both a lack of capacity to protect foreign diplomats posted in India or a more reprehensible, complicit unwillingness to do so," he said.
He said that under the Vienna Convention, the safety and the security of Pakistani diplomats and their families is the responsibility of the Indian Government.
He claimed that in the latest incident, Indian officials stopped the car of the deputy high commissioner for 40 minutes and harassed the occupants of the vehicle.
"Pakistan will go to any limit to ensure safety of the staff of (its) high commission in India," he said.
He said India should not drag Pakistan in its electoral politics. Faisal said that Pakistan wants peace in the region and was against any arms race.