India lodges protest with Pakistan over reported arrests of two Indian High Commission staffers in Islamabad

Sources told PTI that the Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately.

Press Trust of India June 15, 2020 19:04:57 IST
India lodges protest with Pakistan over reported arrests of two Indian High Commission staffers in Islamabad

New Delhi: India on Monday summoned the Pakistan charge d''affaires and lodged a strong protest to him over the reported arrest of two officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

Pakistani media reported that two Indian staffers, who went missing on Monday morning, were arrested by Pakistani authorities for their alleged involvement in a "hit and run accident".

Official sources said the Pakistan charge d''affaires (CDA) was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and a demarche was issued to him over the reported arrest of the two officials.

India lodges protest with Pakistan over reported arrests of two Indian High Commission staffers in Islamabad

Representational image. Reuters

In the demarche, it was made clear to the Pakistani CDA that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials and the responsibility for their safety and security lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities, they said.

The sources said the Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately.

In the morning, the two staffers in Islamabad went missing following which India took up the matter with the Pakistan Foreign Office.

The two staffers went out of the High Commission in a vehicle for official duty at around 8:30 Am (IST), but did not reach their destination, the sources said.

The incident comes two weeks after India expelled two Pakistan High Commission officials here on charges of espionage.

India had declared Abid Hussain and Muhammad Tahir as ''persona non grata'' after they were found obtaining sensitive documents relating to movement of Indian Army troops from an Indian national, according to authorities here.

Following their expulsion, Pakistani agencies started harassing a number of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad including charge d''affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia.

Ahluwalia''s car was aggressively tailed by Pakistani agencies on at least two occasions following which India lodged a strong protest with the Pakistan Foreign Office.

After the expulsion of the two Pakistani officials, it was expected that Pakistan would also resort to a tit-for-tat response, going by similar episodes in the past.

India''s expulsion of the two Pakistani officials and subsequent harassment of Indian High Commission staffers in Islamabad by Pakistani agencies came in the midst of frayed ties between the two countries over the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir by India.

Pakistan had downgraded diplomatic ties by expelling the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad following India''s decision to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year.

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