Pakistan asks India to halve diplomatic staff in 7 days
FO rejects Indian allegations as a pretext to seek 50pc reduction in staff
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: 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, Foreign Office 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 in the day, 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.
In a statement issued shortly after, the Foreign Office 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 Foreign Office, 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.