NEW DELHI: India-Pakistan relations spiralled further southwards on Friday with reports that Pakistan’s high commissioner to India, Sohail Mehmood, would not return to Delhi until “Indian secret agencies stop harassing Pakistani diplomatic staff and their families”.
Mehmood, who was summoned to Islamabad on Thursday, “will not return to India anytime soon,” Pakistani media quoted foreign ministry officials as saying.
Pakistan also pulled out of a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting to be held in New Delhi next week. Commerce Minister Pervez Malik, who had earlier accepted India’s invitation to join the informal WTO ministerial meeting scheduled for March 19 and 20, has decided not to attend.
Over the past fortnight, both sides have been trading charges over harassment of their diplomats and accusing each other of violating the Geneva Convention rules.
Pakistani officials even released a video of such ‘harassment’, in which a white car is seen blocking their diplomat’s vehicle in Delhi and people on motorcycles abusing and filming the occupants. Meanwhile, New Delhi maintained that it uses diplomatic channels, and not the media, to protest.
‘Indian diplomats feel unsafe in Islamad’
Indian officials privately said that life had become ‘very difficult’ for diplomats at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. “Forget aggressive tailing, we’ve had people throw garbage and spit on our diplomatic vehicles in Islamabad in full view of local police,” one official said.