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India asks Pakistan high commission to cut staff strength by 50%

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday said it will reduce the staff strength in the

Pakistan

high commission in New Delhi by 50% and would also recall half of its officials from the Indian high commission in Islamabad amid the ongoing diplomatic tussle with the neighbouring country.

Raising concern over the activities of Pakistani officials in India,

the ministry of external affairs

told Pakistan’s Charge d’affairs to India that their envoys have engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terror organizations.

India also cited the recent example of two Pakistani envoys who were expelled and sent back over charges of spying.

“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 MEA said.

It said 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.

The MEA said the officials, who returned to India on June 22, provided graphic details of the barbaric treatment they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies.

The MEA said that Pakistan’s behaviour 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,” it added.

“Therefore, the Government of India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50% within the next 7 days. It would reciprocally reduce its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion,” it said.

Two Indian officials were arrested on June 15 in Pakistan in an alleged hit-and-run incident. Both were later released.

After the incident, India had summoned the charge d’ affaires of the Pakistan High Commission, lodging a protest over the “abduction and torture” of two officials of the Indian mission in Islamabad.

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23rd June 2020

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