India and Pakistan entered into a diplomatic spat with both sides accusing each other of harassing, even intimidating, diplomats.
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NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan entered into a bitter diplomatic spat with both sides accusing each other of harassing, even intimidating, diplomats.
The Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has lodged complaints of harassment with the External Affairs Ministry and alleged that several Indian mission staffers in Islamabad have been severely "harassed and intimidated".
"Harassment is the new normal for Indian High Commission personnel in Islamabad. The High Commissioner's car was recently stopped by Pakistani agencies in the middle of a busy road to prevent him from attending an event," PTI quoted a source as saying.
The source said after some incidents of alleged harassment were brought to the notice of the external affairs ministry, these will be investigated.
"India makes all efforts to provide a safe, secure and hospitable environment for diplomats to work in. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of Islamabad. The Indian High Commission in Pakistan has been facing tremendous harassment for long, particularly in the last year," the source said.
"Aggressive surveillance, violation of physical space and tailing of officers in close and dangerous proximity is a perennial issue. Agency personnel keep shooting videos of the officers thrusting phones on their faces.
"Obscene phone calls and messages are constantly received on phones. In view of such an atmosphere of intimidation, most families have returned to India and children have been withdrawn from schools," the source said.
The source said several staffers of the Indian High Commission have been severely harassed and intimidates so much so that one of the official's home was broken into a laptop was stolen from there.
The Indian High Commission in Pakistan has been facing tremendous harassment for long, particularly over the past year, it said.
However, Indian diplomats chose to tackle this matter with quiet and persistent diplomacy rather than by airing issues in the media, PTI sources said.
The strong reaction came after Pakistani newspaper Dawn quoted Pakistani officials of accusing India of harassing its diplomats and their families in the country and threatened to pull out the families if the intimidation did not stop.
According to a report in the Dawn on Saturday quoting a diplomatic source, a demarche was made to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and the external affairs ministry in Delhi.
India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to let High Commissions function properly and that they are allowed to do their job in in an atmosphere free of harassment and intimidation, the source said.
"We would like to continue the fine tradition of allowing diplomats to do their jobs," it said.
According to the sources, the Indian High Commissioner lodged a strong protest on February 16 against multiple acts of hooliganism against Indian properties and personnel.
"India's residential complex in Islamabad was raided by Pakistan agencies who expelled all Pakistani service providers and later disconnected power and water supply.
"Despite the Foreign Secretary's assurance, the power supply was not restored for over two weeks. The Pakistan High Commission faces no such disruptions," the source said.