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Pakistani, Indian diplomatic staff claim harassment

Updated January 15, 2019

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Both countries are back at accusing each other of diplomats' harassment less than a year after recommitting to their 'Code of Conduct'. — File photo
Both countries are back at accusing each other of diplomats' harassment less than a year after recommitting to their 'Code of Conduct'. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Less than a year after Islamabad and New Delhi recommitted to their bilateral ‘Code of Conduct’ on diplomatic and consular staff, the two countries are back at accusing each other of harassing their diplomats and officials.

Indians are claiming that a protest was lodged with the Foreign Office on Jan 10 about Pakistani security personnel’s alleged aggressive behaviour with High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and Deputy High Commis­sioner J.P. Singh.

Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal was asked about the Indian claim, but he did not reply.

The claim surfaced a day after the Foreign Office protested to the Indian High Commission over the brief detention of a Pakistani High Commission official in New Delhi following a complaint of an altercation by a woman.

The FO in its protest said that the detention of the official was a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

As per media reports, an official assigned to the Naval Attaché’s office in Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi was detained at a police station following a complaint from a woman that he had behaved inappropriately with her at a market. The official, it is said, was held even after he identified himself as an employee of the Pakistani High Commission.

The Indians, moreover, say that FO had been over the past couple of months intimated about other incidents as well including alleged disconnection of power supply to the residence of a second secretary and alleged attempts at hacking of the social media accounts of a couple of diplomats at the high commission.

The happenings were described by the Indian side in the protest as “incidents of aggressive surveillance, violation of privacy and harassment”.

It should be recalled that the two countries had after a series of complaints of harassment last year reached an understanding in March 2018 to address the grievances in accordance with the bilaterally agreed 1992 ‘Code of Conduct’ on treatment of diplomatic and consular staff in each other’s country.

The agreement that was then announced simultaneously by the countries read: “India and Pakistan have mutually agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises, in line with the 1992 ‘Code of Conduct’ for treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan.”

The code was meant to ensure “smooth and unhindered functioning” of each other’s diplomatic missions and consular staff and guarantee that the privileges and immunities of the diplomatic and consular staff and premises were not violated.

It is a common observation that such incidents between India and Pakistan are usually manifestation of other problems in their already frayed ties. Official dialogue between the two countries has been suspended for over five years now. With elections in India round the corner, there is little hope of progress in ties till the formation of next government.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2019