India ups ante, seeks 50 percent reduction in Pak High Commission staff strength

    23-Jun-2020   
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New Delhi: In a major move that reflects diplomatic uneasiness in South Asia, India on Tuesday summoned Pakistan Charge d’ Affaires Syed Haider Shah and conveyed the Government of India "decision" to reduce the staff strength in the High Commission in New Delhi by 50 percent. New Delhi would "reciprocally reduce" its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion. This decision will be is to be implemented in seven days, an MEA statement said here.
 
Haider Shah was summoned today to the Ministry of External Affairs and "informed that India had repeatedly expressed concern about the activities of officials of his High Commission". India alleged that its western neighbour has been engaged in "acts of espionage" and maintained dealings with terrorist organizations.
 
"The activities of the two officials caught red-handed and expelled on May 31, 2020 was one example in that regard," MEA said.
 
"While their officials indulged in actions that are not in conformity with their privileged status in the High Commission, Pakistan has in parallel engaged in a sustained campaign to intimidate the officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad from carrying on their legitimate diplomatic functions," the statement alleged alluding to alleged "abduction at gunpoint" of two Indian officials and their severe ill treatment underlines the extent to which Pakistan has gone in that direction.
 
"These officials who have returned to India on June 22, 2020 have provided graphic details of the barbaric treatment that they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies", says the MEA statement. MEA maintained that 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. Therefore, the Government of India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50 percent. 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," the statement added.