India summons Pakistan High Commissioner, protests abduction, torture of staff

New Delhi: India today summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission Haider Shah and lodged a strong protest with him over the abduction and torture of two officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad by the Pakistani security agencies.

The abduction, said India, violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 as also the ‘Code of Conduct for treatment of Diplomatic/Consular personnel in India and Pakistan‘ signed in 1992 and reaffirmed by both sides in Mar. 2018.

“The Government of India strongly condemns and deplores the action of the Pakistani authorities in this regard,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

“This premeditated, grave and provocative action on the part of the Pakistani authorities, preceded by intensified surveillance, harassment and intimidation of High Commission personnel over the past several days, was designed to obstruct and disrupt the normal functioning of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad,” he said.

According to the MEA officials, the two staff of the Indian High Commission were forcibly abducted by Pakistani agencies on Jun. 15 and kept in illegal custody for more than 10 hours. They were released only after strong intervention by the High Commission of India in Islamabad and the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.

Officials said the two Indian staff was subjected to interrogation, torture and physical assault resulting in grievous injuries to them. They were video-graphed and coerced to accept a litany of fictitious allegations and concocted charges. The vehicle of the High Commission, in which they were travelling, was extensively damaged, the officials said.

“The attempt by Pakistani authorities to levy false accusations and concocted charges on the officials of the High Commission is rejected in entirety,” Srivastava said.

The external affairs ministry expressed its grave concerns over the fact that the Pakistan agencies threatened to physically harm more officials of the Indian Mission and it was told to Pakistan that it is responsible for the safety and security of the Indian High Commission, its officials, staff members, their families and properties.

The Pakistani move came after India recently expelled two Pakistan High Commission staff over spying charges. Indian security forces had caught two Pakistan High Commission staff members — Abeed Hussain and Tahir Khan — indulging in anti-Indian activities in Central Delhi‘s Karol Bagh area.

The two were working for the Pakistan spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence and used to move around with the help of fake identity papers.

Such continued unilateral actions by Pakistan, aimed at escalating tensions, will not succeed in diverting attention from the core issue of Pakistan’s continued hostile activities and sponsorship of cross-border terrorism against India, Srivastava said.

Spy games are not new for Pakistan. In 2016 too, India had caught and asked Pakistan High Commission staff Mehmood Akhtar to leave within 48 hours over espionage charges.

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