– June 23, 2020
The Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday dismissed “baseless allegations” made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, as the latter sought to reduce staff strength at the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi by 50 per cent.
In a statement, FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said: “Pakistan completely dismisses allegations of any violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations by [Pakistan High Commission] officials in New Delhi and reiterates that they always function within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms.”
Earlier today, India sought to reduce staff strength at the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi by 50 per cent, adding that it would do the same to its own presence in Islamabad.
A statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the decision, which will be implemented in seven days, has been conveyed to Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires.
According to the statement, Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires was informed that Delhi has “repeatedly expressed concerns about the acitivities of officials [at the Pakistan High Commission]”.
“They have been engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terrorist organisations,” it said, referring to the expulsion of two officials from the Pakistan High Commission on May 31.
Commenting on the recent hit-and-run in Islamabad involving two Indian High Commission officials, the statement alleged that 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”.
In a statement issued shortly after, the FO spokesperson rejected the claim that Indian High Commission officials were intimidated in Islamabad.
“The Indian government’s smear campaign against Pakistan cannot obfuscate the illegal activities in which the Indian High Commission officials were found [to be] involved in. The statement is another effort to distort facts and deny the culpability of these Indian High Commission officials in criminal offences.”
The FO also attributed the move to another “desperate attempt” to divert attention from Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir.
“India would be better advised to focus on its internal and external issues, rather than creating diversions at the cost of peace and stability in South Asia.
“Pakistan has been consistently sensitising the world community that [the] irresponsible policies of the BJP government are increasingly imperilling regional peace and stability.”
The statement added that the FO also summoned India’s Chargé d’Affaires to inform him of Pakistan’s decision to reduce staff at the Indian High Commission by 50pc as a “reciprocal measure” and was asked to implement the decision within seven days.
Tensions between the two countries rose after India expelled two officials of the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi on May 31 accusing them of espionage — a charge, which was immediately rejected by Pakistan as “false and unsubstantiated”.
The FO, while condemning the Indian action, had said the Indian move was “accompanied by a negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda”.
On June 15, the two officials from the Indian High Commission — Dwimu Brahma and Selvadas Paul — were briefly detained and booked by police after their speeding vehicle crashed into a pedestrian in the capital on June 15, triggering a diplomatic spat between New Delhi and Islamabad.
Indian media, qouting a statement by the Indian government, had reported that the staffers were “forcibly abducted […] kept in illegal custody for more than 10 hours”.
Rejecting the claims, the FO called the statement a “reprehensible attempt to distort facts and deny culpability”.
“The BJP government must realise that its irresponsible policies and unilateral actions are increasingly imperiling peace and security in the region. India must act responsibly in the interest of regional peace and stability,” the FO spokesperson had said.