NEW DELHI: On a day Hamid Nehal Ansari crossed over the Wagah-Attari border into India after serving a three-year sentence for espionage in Pakistan, officials in New Delhi said Indian diplomats in Pakistan faced tremendous difficulties in accessing not just the internet, but Indian government sites, which makes it extremely difficult for them to perform their official duties.
On December 12, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad issued a note, one of several over the past few months, to the Pakistan foreign ministry urging its intervention in resolving the issue.
Referring to a similar note sent November 14, the note said that “The government of India’s official website (ending in gov.in/.in domain names) and the internet connection of the High Commission continue to intermittently blocked. Specifically, the website ‘indianvisaonline.gov.in’, used by applicants in Pakistan to apply for visas, is non-accessible for extended periods causing great disruption in the visa application process for the applicants…”
Noting that ‘some instances of such complaints’ were enclosed with the note, the High Commission said “the esteemed ministry is requested to ensure that the internet service providers in Pakistan may please be advised to stop blocking Government of India’s official websites and restore normal internet service to the High Commission at the earliest.”
“This is nothing new, but the fact that our High Commission has issued two notes in as many months implies that they are facing serious issues in just getting connected to the internet, leave alone connecting to Indian government sites,” said an official who had served in Pakistan. “Apart from delays in mail and other net-based services, this obviously leads to a lot of unnecessary tension since the main MEA site is usually where our officials get a lot of their information from. Even proxy servers are useless unless you have internet access to begin with.”
The intermittent blocking had actually started way back in May last year and peaked in March this year, when the two nations traded charges of harassment of officials in each other’s countries. So far, some seven or eight note verbales on this subject have elicited little response, the official said. “It also explains why a lot of Pakistanis are taking to Twitter to appeal to our external affairs minister for urgent visas.”