Wednesday Jul 01, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Around 38 officials of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan left for India on Wednesday, in a recent blow to the deteriorating diplomatic ties between the two neighbouring countries.
Diplomatic sources informed Geo News that the Indian High Commission officials went back to India via the Wagah-Attari border today.
The relations between the two countries recently became more strained after two Indian diplomats were caught trying to escape from a hit-and-run incident in Islamabad last month.
After the incident, reports emerged of Indian authorities harassing Pakistani diplomats in New Delhi.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said earlier that India will be repaid in the same coin and also asked to reduce its diplomatic staff in Islamabad.
Pretext to reduce Pakistani embassy staff
On June 23, Pakistan "completely dismissed" allegations made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs that its staff in New Delhi had violated any diplomatic conventions, saying they were used as "a pretext to seek 50% reduction in the staff strength" at the embassy.
"Pakistan categorically rejects and strongly condemns the baseless allegations made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs as a pretext to seek 50% reduction in the staff strength of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi," read a statement by the Foreign Office.
The Foreign Office said it reiterates that the staff "always function within the parametres of international law and diplomatic norms".
It also rejected insinuations that Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad were "intimidated".
In June, tensions between India and Pakistan continued to rise after reports emerged of Pakistani diplomats being harassed in New Delhi.
A heavy contingent of police officials surrounded the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi in an apparent attempt to harass the Pakistani diplomats.
The development came in the wake of Islamabad Police arresting two employees of the Indian High Commission on Monday for attempting to flee after running over a man and critically injuring him.
Islamabad police said both Indian High Commission officials were released due to their diplomatic immunity and had been handed over in the presence of Pakistani ministry's officials.
A case had earlier been filed against the two Indian officers for running over and critically injuring a man before allegedly trying to flee from the site of the accident. Both were taken into custody and a first information report (FIR) was registered against them in the Secretariat Police Station, with charges of negligence, reckless driving, and overspeeding.
Last month, India declared two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi "persona non grata requiring them to leave India within 24 hours", alleging that they had been found guilty of espionage.
Pakistan had condemned the Indian government’s decision to expel the staff members as part of a “persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda”.
Islamabad had said that the two staff members of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were “lifted by the Indian authorities today (31 May 2020) on false and unsubstantiated charges”.
They were subsequently released after the Pakistan High Commission intervened. “We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges,” the Foreign Office had said.