India asks Pakistan to reduce high commission staff by half within 7 days

India on Tuesday asked Pakistan to reduce its staff in its high commission here by half within the next seven days and announced a reciprocal trimming of Indian strength in Islamabad, in a significant downgrading of diplomatic ties.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the Charge d’ Affaires of Pakistan High Commission was summoned and informed about the decision which was based on instances of

alleged involvement of Pakistani officials in “acts of espionage” and dealings with “terrorist organisations”.

In a statement, the MEA also cited the recent abduction of two Indian officials in Islamabad and the “barbaric treatment” meted out to them by Pakistani agencies as reasons for downgrading of the diplomatic ties.

“The behaviour of Pakistan and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials. On the contrary, it is an intrinsic element of a larger policy of supporting cross-border violence and terrorism,” the MEA said.

Therefore, it said, India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50 per cent.

“It would reciprocally reduce its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion. This decision, which is to be implemented in seven days, was conveyed to the Pakistani Charge d’ Affaires,” it added.

The MEA said the Charge d’ Affaires of Pakistan High Commission was summoned to the ministry and informed that India had repeatedly expressed concern about the activities of officials of his High Commission.

“They have been engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terrorist organisations. The activities of the two officials caught red-handed and expelled on May 31 was one example in that regard,” it said.

It said 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.

“The recent abduction at gunpoint of two Indian officials and their severe ill-treatment underlines the extent to which Pakistan has gone in that direction,” it said.

“These officials who have returned to India on 22 June 2020 have provided graphic details of the barbaric treatment that they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies,” the MEA added.

Pakistan had expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad following India’s decision to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year.

Pak rejects allegations of violation of Vienna Convention

Pakistan on Tuesday rejected what it called “baseless allegations” by India of any violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations by its High Commission officials in New Delhi and asserted that they always function within the parameters of international law.

Indian Chargé d’ Affaires in Islamabad was summoned to convey Pakistan’s rejection and condemnation of the “baseless Indian allegations”, the Foreign Office said.

“Pakistan completely dismisses allegations of any violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by the officials of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi and reiterates that they always function within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms,” it said. “The Indian Chargé d’ Affaires was also informed of Pakistan’s decision to reduce the Indian High Commission’s staff strength by 50 per cent as a reciprocal measure,” the FO said, adding that the Indian diplomat was asked to implement the decision conveyed to him within seven days.