By Amit Agnihotri and N. C. Bipindra
New Delhi: In a firm move against its western neighbour, India today signalled it was downgrading its bilateral relationship with Pakistan by asking the troubled country to reduce the staff strength at its High Commission in New Delhi by half. India would accordingly match the same with its High Commission staff in Islamabad. The move comes even India is
“The Government of India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50 per cent. It would reciprocally reduce its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion. This decision, which is to be implemented in seven days, was conveyed to the Pakistani Charge d’Affaires,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
The provocation, said officials, was the espionage activities by the Pakistan High Commission staff in India, who also supported terrorist organisations as well as the ill-treatment meted out to the Indian High Commission staff in Islamabad in violation of the Vienna Convention.
“It’s a welcome step. Pakistan high commission in New Delhi has for long operated Kashmir militancy. They have even invited former terrorists, asking them to send spy videos and Global Positioning System coordinates of important places in Kashmir and other targets in India,” said Udaipur-based Usanas Foundation’s Abhinav Pandya, who has done extensive research and written books on Pakistan’s links with terrorism in Kashmir.
“It must be clear by now that China and Pakistan are acting in tandem on all fronts. China’s intelligence operations are also routed through Pakistan. So whatever happens, even on the diplomatic front with Pakistan, there is always a hidden china angle,” Pandya said.
“India has sent a tough message, which is a symbol of India’s assertive approach in world politics. Message is not just to Pakistan but also to China. We are no more a soft state.”
On May 31, India had asked two Pakistan High Commission staff — Abeed Hussain and Tahir Khan — who were indulging in anti-Indian activities in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh area, to leave the country over spying charges.
“The recent abduction at gunpoint of two Indian officials serving in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and their severe ill treatment underlines the extent to which Pakistan has gone in that direction. These officials who have returned to India on 22 June 2020 have provided graphic details of the barbaric treatment that they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies,” said Srivastava.
Pakistan has been upset since August 2019 when Indian scrapped the Article 370 of Constitution that gave special status to the erstwhile state. Soon after, Pakistan had downgraded diplomatic ties with Indian by expelling the then Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Ajay Bisaria.
Over the past weeks, Pakistan has also been shelling across the Line of Control in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir violating the ceasefire agreements.