India downplays recall of Pakistani envoy

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New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) India on Thursday downplayed as “normal and routine” Pakistan’s decision to call back its High Commissioner in India Sohail Mahmood following allegations that Pakistani diplomats were harassed here.

“It is pretty normal for an ambassador or a high commissioner in any country – for example the resident ambassadors and high commissioners who are in India – to go back to their capital to hold consultations with the foreign office,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said here.

“This is pretty normal and pretty routine also in nature,” Kumar said. “We, of course, have no comments to offer as to why the Pakistani High Commissioner has gone back.”

The Pakistan government called back Mahmood for consultation to Islamabad over what it said were incidents of harassment of its High Commission staff in the Indian capital.

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Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said they will hold consultations with the High Commissioner over “recent incidents of harassing of their diplomats”.

Faisal claimed that the Indian government had not taken measures to safeguard Pakistani diplomats and their families in India.

Asked what steps New Delhi took following Pakistani protests, Kumar said: “We do not want to respond to these issues through the media but through established diplomatic channels. At this stage what I can share with you is that we are looking into the issues which have been raised by their side.”

He also said that the Indian High Commission in Pakistan was facing “a litany of issues” which have not been resolved for several months.

“We raised these issues in good faith through diplomatic channels and not through the media.

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“We have asked for immediate resolution of these issues faced by our High Commission in Islamabad so that the safety and security of the diplomatic mission and our diplomatic and consular officials is assured.

“We would like our mission to function normally without any obstruction or harassment in keeping with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.”

Stating that New Delhi won’t give details of issues taken up with Islamabad, Kumar said: “I think it is very clear that it is something that should be taken up through the established diplomatic channels and not to be published in the media for wider dissemination.”

–IANS

ab/mr

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