Foreign Office says Delhi’s ‘baseless claims’ are merely pretext to seek reduction in staff strength
Rejecting Indian allegations that staff at Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi had violated diplomatic conventions, the Foreign Office on Tuesday claimed the accusations were merely “a pretext to seek 50 percent reduction in 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 percent reduction in the staff strength of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Office. It said Pakistan’s staff “always functions within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms,” and rejected claims that Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad had been “intimidated” by police.
“The Indian government’s smear campaign against Pakistan cannot obfuscate the illegal activities in which the Indian High Commission officials were found involved in,” read the statement, referring to a hit-and-run incident that had resulted in two staffers being arrested earlier this month.
Slamming India over its statement on how its staff was treated in Islamabad, the Foreign Office said it was merely the latest in a string of attempts by Delhi to “distort facts and deny the culpability of these Indian High Commission officials in criminal offenses.” It reiterated its belief that this was part of India’s “desperate attempts to divert attention from its state-terrorism” and human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.
It also reiterated its advice for India 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 sensitizing the world community that irresponsible policies of the BJP government are increasingly imperiling regional peace and stability,” read the statement.
It said the Indian Chargé d’Affaires in Islamabad had been summoned to convey “Pakistan’s rejection and condemnation of the baseless Indian allegations” and had also been informed of Pakistan’s decision to reduce the Indian High Commission’s staff strength by a reciprocal 50 percent. “The Chargé d’Affaires was asked to implement the decision conveyed to him within seven days,” the statement added.
The Foreign Office statement followed a statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs in which Delhi had informed Pakistan it needed to slash its embassy staff by half. “The behavior of Pakistan and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials,” it said.
Last month, New Delhi expelled two Pakistan embassy officials over allegations of espionage. Last week, New Delhi accused Pakistan police of torturing two Indian diplomats arrested in a hit-and-run incident in Islamabad. Both have since been freed and have returned to India.