Pakistan- India relations
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
A timeline: August 1947-September 2016
Britain ends its colonial rule over the Indian subcontinent, which becomes two independent nations - Hindu-majority, but secularly governed India and the Islamic republic of Pakistan. The division, widely known as Partition, sparks massive rioting that kills up to 10 lakh, while another 1.5 crore people flee their homes in one of the world's largest human migrations.
The two young nations begin a war over control of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority kingdom ruled by a Hindu maharaja. A UN-brokered cease-fire ends the war in a year with Kashmir divided between them.
India and Pakistan agree to a UN Security Council resolution calling for a referendum in which Kashmiris would determine their future; the vote never takes place.
India and Pakistan sign a World Bank-brokered Indus Water Treaty governing six rivers, or three rivers each. It is the only India-Pakistan treaty that has held.
A second war begins over Kashmir, ending a month later in another UN-mandated ceasefire.
A third war is fought, this time as India supports secessionists in East Pakistan. The war ends with the creation of Bangladesh.
The countries' prime ministers sign an accord for the return of tens of thousands of Pakistani prisoners of war.
India conducts a nuclear test, becoming the first nation to do so that's not a permanent UN Security Council member.
Armed resistance to Indian rule in Kashmir begins. India accuses Pakistan of giving weapons and training to the fighters. Pakistan says it offers only "moral and diplomatic" support.
India detonates five nuclear devices in tests. Pakistan detonates six. Both are slapped with international sanctions.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee rides a bus to the Pakistani city of Lahore to meet with Pakistan counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, and sign a major peace accord.
Conflict erupts in Kargil as Pakistani forces and Kashmiri fighters occupy Himalayan peaks. India launches air and ground strikes. The US brokers peace.
Vajpayee and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf meet in the Indian city of Agra, but reach no agreements.
Insurgents attack the legislature building in Kashmir, killing 38 people.
Gunmen attack India's Parliament, killing 14. India blames militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, and deploys troops to its western frontier with Pakistan. The standoff ends in October 2002 after international mediation.
Musharraf and Vajpayee hold talks, launching bilateral negotiations to settle outstanding issues.
A train service between India and Pakistan, the Samjhauta Express, is bombed in northern India, killing 68.
India and Pakistan open a trade route across Kashmir for the first time in six decades.
Gunmen attack Mumbai, killing 166 people. India blames Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi invites Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi for his inauguration.
PM Modi makes a surprise visit to the Pakistani city of Lahore on Sharif's birthday and the wedding of his granddaughter.
Six gunmen attack an Indian air force base in the northern town of Pathankot, killing seven soldiers in a battle that lasted nearly four days.
Indian soldiers kill Kashmiri terrorist and Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani, sparking months of anti-India protests and deadly clashes in the region.
Suspected terrorists sneak into an Indian army base in Kashmir's Uri and kill 18 soldiers. Four attackers are also killed. 11 days later, Indian Army said it has carried out "surgical strikes" to destroy terror launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan.
1972: Pakistan's pro-West tilt 'stemmed from fear of India'
India was very concerned about Pakistan's closeness with China even 34 year ago, newly released declassified CIA documents say
Meanwhile, Pakistan was concerned 'India and the Soviets will cooperate to impose their demands on Pakistan'.
Pakistan's pro-US tilt is the direct result of its "fear of India," says one of the thousands of documents the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released earlier this month.
"Pakistan's pro-Western orientation stems from her fear of India and USSR rather than any basic sympathy with capitalism or Christian civilisation. It is more negative than positive," an undated CIA document says. It adds that Pakistan at the time wasn't particularly pleased with the US.
"Pakistan is likely to continue basically pro-Western, despite annoyance at the US part in the UN handling of Kashmir and at the US position on North Africa in the UN", the document says.
A 1983 document also talks of Pakistan's obsession with India.
"Pakistan believes India has never accepted its independent existence and it wants to make it a weak buffer state under Indian hegemony. Islamabad is particularly concerned that India and the Soviets will cooperate to impose their demands on Pakistan," says the document from September 1983. That same document talks of India's concerns about Pakistan-China closeness, US military assistance to Pakistan and interference in peace over the Indian Ocean - all concerns that hold good to this day, a whole 34 years later.
"India views Pakistan's strong ties with China with alarm and charges that Pakistan is using the Afghanistan crisis to strengthen itself against India. It opposes US weapons assistance to Pakistan and wants to maintain the Indian ocean area free of superpower rivalry," the 1983 document says.
As for India, a 1972 CIA document says the intelligence agency believed that Indians had a very real sense of "inferiority". "In order to offset the fear that they really may be inferior, however, Indians are often so defensive - touchy and sensitive - that they appear to be offensive, that is assertive, vain, and arrogant," says the document. It then talks of India's "crushing victory over Pakistan" in the December 1971 war.
"National achievements, especially the crushing victory over Pakistan in December 1971 and the apparent ability to create a nuclear weapon, have tended to buoy self-confidence, but euphoria is transient and the feelings of national inferiority are deeply imbedded," the document says.
Airspace use by PMs
===2019, 2021=== India lets Imran use airspace for trip to Sri Lanka
Showing its magnanimity, India on Tuesday allowed Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s aircraft to overfly its airspace as he was headed to Sri Lanka on a state visit. This is in contrast to Islamabad’s stand. In the past 2-3 years, Pakistan has repeatedly disallowed Indian dignitaries on state visits to the west to overfly its airspace. Khan flew from Islamabad to Colombo in a military aircraft. In September 2019, Pakistan had denied Air India One that was to fly President Ram Nath Kovind from Delhi to Europe to use its airspace. The plane had to take a longer route to avoid Pakistan airspace both while going from and returning to Delhi. In June 2019, Prime Minister Modi’s flight from Delhi to Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek also had to take a longer route for the same reason. Due to the longer route, AI One covered a distance of 5,475 kms The straight route over Pakistan would have meant covering a distance 2,585 kms. TNN
Diplomats: treatment of
Code of conduct, 1992
India, Pak turn to code of 1992 to put a lid on envoys’ harassment
Sachin.Parashar @timesgroup.com, The Times of India 31 March 2018
New Delhi: In a significant move to ease tensions, India and Pakistan are looking to put a lid on recent incidents of harassment of diplomats by reiterating a code of conduct arrived at in 1992 to ensure diplomatic staff are not subject to rough treatment that has accelerated a downturn in relations.
The understanding under the code of conduct (CoC) for treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel signed in 1992 after a spate of incidents of harassment indicates that India and Pakistan seem to have decided they should not sink any further in diplomatic quicksand over instances of intimidation.
The two sides have taken steps to minimise such cases in the past 5-6 days and called on each other to abide by the August 1992 CoC in dealing with diplomats in talks held here and in Islamabad.
In Delhi, the MEA said, “India and Pakistan have mutually agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises, in line with the 1992 code of conduct.”
There have been instances of aggressive tailing of Indian diplomats in Islamabad and Pakistani diplomats have reported similar incidents in Delhi.
Talking about the significance of the CoC, former Indian HC to Pakistan TCA Raghavan said it was signed at a tense period in India-Pakistan relations and was a pragmatic attempt to ring fence diplomats from frequent turbulence in ties. “Though frequently infringed through tit-for-tat responses, it remains a standard to be invoked to reset things at more stable levels,” he said.
2018: Islamabad Club snubs Indian high commissioner
The prestigious Islamabad Club, the favourite watering hole of the Pakistani elite and foreign diplomats, has put Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria’s membership on hold. While Indian and Pakistani diplomats routinely, and privately of course, accuse each other of not showing even a modicum of civility in dealing with their respective missions, it’s rare for a high commissioner of either country to be treated like this.
The club is where all foreign envoys hang out in Islamabad and it’s customary for an ambassador or high commissioner to seek membership after landing in Pakistan’s capital.
Bisaria took over as Indian high commissioner late last year and applied for membership soon after. Not only has the club so far not approved his membership, it is also threatening, as TOI has learnt, to not renew the membership of other Indian diplomats. While membership for other Indian diplomats, too, has been delayed in the recent past, this is the first time that the Islamabad Club has stalled the membership of the Indian high commissioner. Memberships for envoys are normally approved within weeks, if not days.
Islamabad Club describes itself as an exclusive club whose membership comprises government officials, diplomats and the elite of Islamabad. Sprawled over 346 acres next to the diplomatic enclave, the club is the favourite hangout of all top diplomats and Pakistan policy wonks.
Pak diplomats accuse India of restricting movements
Membership is not given gratis even to top bureaucrats and diplomats.
This is the latest in a series of hostilities Indian diplomats in Pakistan have been subjected to at a time when the bilateral relationship is in a downward spiral, not least because of the daily ceasefire violations. Both countries accuse each other of having committed a record number of ceasefire violations in 2017 and while India holds Pakistani forces solely responsible, Pakistan accuses India of not responding to its proposal for a political initiative to address the issue.
Even Pakistani diplomats accuse India of restricting their movements, so much so that, they claim, they are denied permission to visit even Delhi suburbs like Noida and Gurgaon. Indian sources say all such decisions are taken on the basis of reciprocity and that Pakistan’s diplomats here are much better off compared to their Indian counterparts in Islamabad.
Late last year, as reported by TOI on December 17, India recalled three junior officials from its high commission after two of them were honeytrapped by ISI officials. Both confessed that Pakistan officials had sought classified documents from them.
2018/ India, Pakistan spar over ‘harassment’ of their diplomats
Row Triggered By ISI Raid On Islamabad Housing Complex
India and Pakistan are caught in a major diplomatic spat with each side accusing the other of harassing, even intimidating, diplomats. While Pakistan has now issued a demarche to India saying it was becoming difficult for its diplomats to function in Delhi, sources here said the present hostilities were triggered by an ISI raid on a residential complex under construction for Indian diplomats in Islamabad.
A group of 7-8 men raided the complex, owned by India, last month and disconnected electricity and water supply. Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria protested to the Pakistan foreign secretary on February 16 about “multiple acts of hooliganism”. But the power supply wasn’t restored for over two weeks despite the protest by Bisaria, who himself had his car intercepted recently as he was prevented from attending an event.
Sources here didn’t confirm a report in Pakistani media that Islamabad had threatened to pull out family members of diplomats but said India would probe the claims. They said Indian diplomats and their family have faced routine harassment by Pakistani officials in recent days.
‘Harassment the new normal for Indian officials in Islamabad’
Indian diplomats have repeatedly complained about unauthorised entry into their premises as well as random interception of their cars. In one case, unidentified men broke into an Indian official’s home and stole his laptop. The government, as a source said, has also not taken kindly to the fact that Islamabad Club has sought to deny membership, which is open to all diplomats, to Bisaria and other Indian diplomats. Pakistan’s interior ministry is yet to issue the no-objection certificate required for the membership given to Indian diplomats. “Harassment is the new normal for Indian high commission personnel in Islamabad,’’ a source here said.
Late last year, India had to pull out two junior officials from its high commission after the ISI honeytrapped them and later tried to blackmail them. These developments threaten to undermine an attempt by both governments to move on by first addressing humanitarian issues like release of prisoners who have served their jail
terms. The two countries, only last week, agreed to the release and repatriation of prisoners over 70 years of age and also women prisoners.
In its demarche, according to a Pakistani media report, Islamabad said the children of its deputy high commissioner were harassed by Indian authorities while they were on their way to school.
Sources said that in view of such an atmosphere of intimidation, most families of Indian officials had returned to India and children had been withdrawn from schools. “Aggressive surveillance, violation of physical space and tailing of officers in close and dangerous proximity is a perennial issue. Agency personnel keep shooting videos of the officers thrusting phones in their faces. Obscene phone calls and messages are constantly received on phones,’’ said a source.
On the issue of India’s residential project in Islamabad, sources said Pakistan had denied visas to Indian companies involved in the construction. The main contractor, who is responsible for maintenance of the chancery, is said to have been threatened by Pakistani officials. He was told to leave the complex and also warned of action against him if he continued to do business with the Indian mission. India believes that Pakistan diplomats here are operating in a much better environment than their Indian counterparts in Islamabad.
“The truth is that even the chancery can’t go about its normal business as the security guards have been threatened by Pakistani officials and asked not to allow any local to the chancery building,’’ a source here said.
Beating each other’s diplomats with clubs
The seemingly innocuous issue involving Islamabad Club is turning into a major row between India and Pakistan with Islamabad blocking membership for Indian diplomats to ensure, as it now turns out, similar leisure facilities for its officials in tony Delhi Golf Club and Delhi Gymkhana.
While Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria raised the issue of Islamabad Club membership for Indian diplomats with Pakistani officials last month, Islamabad has chosen to throw the much-dreaded word in Indo-Pak diplomatic parlance — reciprocity— at New Delhi.
According to diplomatic sources, Pakistan interior ministry put on hold clearance for membership of Indian diplomats, including Bisaria himself, after the Pakistan high commission here informed Islamabad last month that clubs with similar status in Delhi were charging exorbitant rates from Pakistani diplomats. They said while Delhi Golf Club charged $15,000 from them for a 3-year membership, Indian diplomats paid only $1500-1800 for membership of the same duration at Islamabad Club.
India has responded by telling Pakistan that Delhi Golf Club and Delhi Gymkhana are private clubs and it isn’t possible for the government to ask them to cut down membership cost for anyone.
The Pakistani diplomats also claimed while Islamabad Club allowed entry to the entire families of Indian diplomats, their kids were not allowed access to Delhi clubs. The Pakistan mission said in their official communication that Delhi Gymkhana and Golf Club, even if combined together, could not offer the facilities which members of Islamabad Club had at their disposal.
Islamabad Club is open to all foreign diplomats and denying membership only to Indians has created an impression that they are being discriminated against.
India sends 13th note verbale to Pak
A day after India issued its 12th note verbale to Pakistan protesting the "intimidation" of its staff there, it gave another such diplomatic note to the neighbouring country today, taking the tally to 13, reported PTI.
The latest note came after several Indian high commission officials on Sunday faced harassment in Pakistan, reported ANI quoting sources.
"On March 18, the second secretary at the Indian high commission in Pakistan was aggressively followed by unidentified people in a car in close proximity in an intimidating manner while he was going to Chhaye Khana restaurant. Videos were made using mobile phone," the sources said.
In another incident today, four high commission officials travelling in an official vehicle were "aggressively followed" by two unknown persons on motorbikes in an "intimidating manner" when they were on their way to Aabpara market, the sources shared further.
They alleged that the website of the Indian high commission continued to be "intermittently blocked causing inconvenience and affecting the normal functioning of the mission."
The Pakistan government has been informed of the incidents, reported ANI.
Previously India gave Pakistan a note verbale through its high commission in Islamabad, specifically mentioning two incidents of harassment.
Earlier this week, Islamabad asked its high commissioner Sohail Mahmood to return to Pakistan, claiming that there had been 26 instances of harassment and intimidation of its diplomats since March 7, even as India termed the move "routine."
New Delhi alleged that its diplomats were facing harassment and being prevented from discharging their duties in Islamabad.
"Indian High Commission in Pakistan is facing many issues. We've reached out through established diplomatic channels to Islamabad. We want that our Commission in Islamabad functions smoothly, the officials are not harassed, their work is not obstructed and that the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, 1961 is abided by," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press briefing.
2018: Pak denies gas to Indian staff in Islamabad
Tit-For-Tat? India Blocks Pakistan Envoy’s Visit To Kolkata
India and Pakistan are yet again faced with diplomatic harassment that marred ties between the two countries earlier this year. While Pakistan has denied gas to the newly constructed Indian residential complex in Islamabad, the Indian government earlier this month denied permission to Pakistan high commissioner Sohail Mahmood to visit Kolkata.
Both sides were quiet on why Mahmood was prevented from visiting but, as official sources said, Pakistan had been late in seeking approval for the visit. Both Indian and Pakistan high commissioners are required to seek approval from local authorities for any visit outside the capital.
This development came around the time Indian officials were raising with Pakistan the issue of delay in supply of gas to India’s newly constructed residential complex in Islamabad. Sources said that the issue had been repeatedly raised for over a month both here with the Pakistan high commission and with MoFA in Islamabad.
“Several note verbale have been issued but to no avail,’’ said an official source. The complex was at the centre of the dispute between India and Pakistan over harassment of diplomats in both capitals. A group of men was said to have raided the complex under construction then and disconnected water and electricity supply triggering diplomatic hostility which lasted for over a month.
The complex is now home to several Indian diplomats and other staff. According to sources here, the supply of gas has not started, despite pipelines having been laid, because the same is yet to be approved by Pakistan government authorities including MoFA. The cold weather has made it worse for residents of the complex as gas is required for activating the heating system.
The government has also raised with Pakistan the issue of abrupt blackouts in the homes of Indian diplomats. While these have not lasted very long, the power disruption has apparently taken place in the middle of formal receptions. In one instance recently, which was brought to Pakistan’s attention, an unidentified man tried to break open into the home of an Indian diplomat when he was not at home.
India has in the past accused Pakistan of blocking Indian government websites inconveniencing, among others, Pakistan nationals looking to apply for Indian visa. According to Indian officials, these websites are still not working properly in Pakistan and the issue has been taken up with Islamabad.
Indian diplomats have also been subjected to very aggressive surveillance in the past few weeks, sources said. While India put the blame for the crisis in February-March this year on a raid by ISI officials on the Indian residential complex, Pakistan had alleged that its diplomats and other staff faced harassment by Indian authorities 18 times between March 7 and March 9.
Indus Water Treaty
2018: India, Pak to be in multilateral military drill together
Indian and Pakistani combat troops, who are locked in a volatile confrontation with daily firing duels along the Line of Control in J&K, will for the first time exercise together as part of a multi-nation counter-terror war game under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Russia in August.
The exercise ‘Peace Mission-2018’, which will also see the participation of China and other SCO countries, is slated to be held in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia from August 22 to 29. “Indian soldiers have never actively participated in a multilateral exercise that included Pakistan in the past. Troops from the two countries have, however, worked together in UN missions and operations,” an officer said.
The main aim of the exercise, being conducted under the framework of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), which is headquartered in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), will be on bolstering counter-terror cooperation among the member countries. “It will see joint mock drills to eliminate terrorists and their networks, and interventions in hostage situations,” he said.
“India's participation in the exercise was confirmed by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation defence ministers in Beijing last week. India joined the SCO in June 2017. The level of participation for the exercise is yet to be decided,” the officer said.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was constituted in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Now, the grouping has eight full members, including India, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Another four nations have been accorded ‘observer’ status, while six others are ‘dialogue’ partners.
Indian soldiers have never actively participated in a multilateral exercise that included Pakistan, said an officer. Troops from the two countries have, however, worked together in UN missions
Kashmir, the internationalisation of
2019: India takes down Pakistan 14-1 at UNSC
Diplomacy involves the patriotic art of lying for one’s country; of saying the nastiest things in the nicest way; of saying go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip. Such consummate skills were on full display at the United Nations and beyond on Friday as India and Pakistan fought a battle of perceptions over the outcome of the extended Security Council deliberations despite it being a closed consultation at which neither party was invited.
For Pakistan, the very fact that the UNSC chose to even go in for a consultation — informal and closed door it may be — over an issue that has been on the UN backburner, albeit at the prompting of only one country, China, was cause for celebration. Their diplomats and politicians exulted in their own idea of success, and the Pakistani media was full of headlines about the crushing defeat the country had inflicted on India by “internationalising” the issue.
For India, the fact that no country agreed to the China-Pakistan effort to force a formal meeting, the fact that the informal meeting had no minutes, no votes or show of hands, no resolution, no statements, and no outcome, showed the duo was isolated and was cause for satisfaction. Diplomats pointed out that barring China, not one among the 14 other UNSC members came out to speak on the matter. And even China’s statement segued into a plea for bilateral talks, which India was happy to undertake if Pakistan fulfilled its commitment to roll up its terrorist apparatus.
The issue attracted very little attention beyond the regional circuit, with the Trump administration simply ignoring moves at the UN. Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan called President Trump shortly before the meeting in an effort to interpose the issue into a national security meeting on Afghanistan that the US President had convened, but the read-out of the call said Trump conveyed to Khan the importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue regarding the situation in J&K.
Indian diplomats maintained that the UN episode showed that it is Pakistan that is isolated in the international community which is largely sympathetic to the difficulty India is having in tackling the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in J&K. “The more Pakistan exerts on this issue, the more it will highlight Pakistan’s use of terrorism in the region for territorial gains and to achieve political ends,” an official said, noting that all countries are aware of Pakistan’s practices in the region.
The Indian side also noted that Chinese and Pakistani diplomats bolted after making “spurious claims” on the outcome of the meeting, misrepresenting the sentiments of the UNSC, while New Delhi’s representative stood up to scrutiny and took a range of questions, including several from Pakistani scribes.
While France, Russia, and Germany among others balked at the China-Pakistan effort for a formal statement, most galling for Pakistan was the smackdown from Washington. Evidently, the international community prefers India and Pakistan to sort their problems bilaterally.
Why Pakistan- China’s UNSC move failed
NEW DELHI: For those wondering why the latest attempt by China and Pakistan to seek a UNSC meeting fizzled out in no time, an interesting back story is now emerging. The day Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote to the UNSC president, December 12, alleging a reign of terror in Kashmir and escalation of tensions in South Asia, the UN also adopted a resolution on interreligious dialogue and peace welcoming, among other things, the Kartarpur Corridor as a landmark initiative in the spirit of interfaith harmony and peaceful neighbourhood.
This, as TOI has learnt, became an important talking point among the UNSC member-states as the resolution was piloted by none other than Pakistan, along with 3 other countries.
Many of these countries saw the mention of the Kartarpur initiative, inserted at Pakistan's behest, and the language used as incompatible with Qureshi's letter and felt the issue raised by Pakistan, and China of course, when it sought a meeting was best addressed bilaterally.
The resolution titled 'Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace' welcomed "the initiative to open up the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in the spirit of interfaith harmony and peaceful neighbourhood, and appreciates the agreement between the governments of India and Pakistan to allow visa-free access to pilgrims of all faiths, especially Nanak Naam Levas and Sikh community from across the world, as a landmark initiative for interreligious and intercultural cooperation for peace."
China had sought a meeting of the Security Council on December 17, at Pakistan’s behest, to discuss the Kashmir situation but backed off because of a lack of support from other P-5 nations. A French diplomatic source was quoted as having said then that the Kashmir issue had to be treated bilaterally. Other western and even Russian diplomats shared the same view.
The UN resolution is an annual phenomenon piloted always by Pakistan and Philippines. Many other countries, like Russia and Thailand this year, join the consensus.
At least 2 UN diplomats, who were approached for support by Pakistan, told TOI that the UNGA resolution, as it was piloted by Pakistan, made it difficult for Pakistan to sell the narrative that it was important for the UNSC to discuss the issue at a time there was an effort by India and Pakistan underway to ensure a peaceful neighbourhood.
"The Kartarpur initiative was looked at very favourably by all and there indeed was a feeling that this was inconsistent with the theory that there had been a precipitous decline in the situation at the border," said one of these 2 diplomats.
Claiming escalation of "already tense" environment in South Asia, Qureshi had said in his letter that India had stepped up unprovoked and deliberate ceasefire violations on the LoC and was taking steps that were "posing serious risks for regional peace and security". He had also spoken about Pakistan’s concerns that India may resort to a "false flag" attack to divert world attention.
Pakistan’s overreach, as a diplomat described it, hasn’t come as a surprise to India as several statements from Islamabad in the past year or so have betrayed jubilation at having tricked India on the initiative to open the corridor. Qureshi himself described as a googly because of which India had to send two union ministers to Pakistan last year for the ground-breaking ceremony. Pakistan PM Imran Khan did clarify later though that it was a sincere effort and a "straightforward decision". More recently, a Pakistan minister was quoted as saying that the opening of the corridor was a wound inflicted on India by Pakistan army chief Qamar Bajwa.
2001: Musharraf mulled use of nuclear weapons against India
Pakistan's former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf has said that he mulled the use of nuclear weapons against India amid tensions following the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament, but decided against doing so out of fear of retaliation, according to a media report.
Musharraf, 73, also recalled that he had many sleepless nights, asking himself whether he would or could deploy nuclear weapons, the Japanese daily `Mainichi Shimbun' said.
When tensions were high in 2001, there was a “danger when (the) nuclear threshold could have been crossed,“ the paper quoted Musharraf as saying. At the time, Musharraf had publicly said that he would not rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons.
Musharraf also said, however, that at the time, neither India nor Pakistan had nuclear warheads on their missiles, so it would have taken one to two days to make them launch-ready . Asked whether he had ordered that missiles be equipped with nuclear warheads and put into firing position, he said, “We didn't do that and we don't think India also did that, thank God“ pointing, perhaps, to a fear of retaliation, the paper reported.
The two countries subsequently avoided an all-out clash and tensions subsided. The then army chief Musharraf ousted the then PM Nawaz Sharif in a coup in October 1999. The army general served as president from 2001 to 2008. Musharraf has been living in Dubai since last year when he was allowed to leave Pakistan on pretext of medical treatment. He has been charged with involvement in the murder of the former PM Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
Pakistani sportspersons’ visits to India/ 2019
The issue of suspension of India’s hosting rights of international sports events seems to have been resolved. The government, on Tuesday, provided a written undertaking to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it will allow athletes and officials from visiting nations to participate in India “without any prejudice to our principled positions and policies on other political matters”.
The decision means that India will soon be back to hosting multi-sport events, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers in the country, after the government’s written assurance that “such commitment of the government stems from our world view of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘the world is one family’ which, in essence, is also the spirit behind the International Olympic movement”.
The IOC’s executive board will deliberate on the government’s undertaking before lifting its ban in coming weeks. It would clear the way for sportspersons from Pakistan and Kosovo to take part in international tournaments in India.
The IOC had suspended India’s hosting rights after the government had denied visas to two Pakistani shooters and their coach for the shooting World Cup Rifle/Pistol in Delhi in February following the Pulwama terrorist attack.
IOC likely to lift ban on India now
Earlier, India had refused to grant visa to a female Kosovan boxer for the women’s world boxing championship in November last year, since the government doesn’t recognise Kosovo as a nation.
The government’s relaxed stance could brighten the chance for Pakistan women’s cricket team’s visit to India for a bilateral ODI series between July and November this year as part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Women’s Championship, which will determine qualification for the Women’s World Cup in 2021.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) had written to the sports ministry last month seeking permission to host the Pakistan’s women’s team, which had put the ball in the ministry of external affairs’ (MEA) court.
The decision will also enable Pakistan’s national table tennis team to come for the Commonwealth Championships in Odisha from July 17 to 22, for which, the Pakistani paddlers have already entered their entries.
“It’s the policy of the government that India will hold international sporting events and will permit all qualified athletes belonging to any National Olympic Committee (NOC) recognised by IOC or any national federation affiliated to the international federation concerned to participate. Such participation of athletes shall be without prejudice to our principled positions and policies on other political matters including issues such as international recognition or otherwise of the country of origin of the athletes,” sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya wrote to Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) president Narinder Batra and marked a copy of the letter to IOC chief Thomas Bach.
“The government of India has always attached high importance to the development of sports in the country. It’s the vision of the government to enhance the sporting capabilities of our people through our association with the IOC, and based on the values and principles of the Olympic charter,” the letter added.
TOI had, in its edition dated April 3, 2019, exclusively reported that the ministry and the IOA have reached a consensus that the new government will provide such an undertaking to the IOC soon after taking the charge following the conduct of the general elections.
Pakistan’s territorial/ cartographic aggression
Seeking to raise the ante on the first anniversary of the revocation of J&K’s special status, the Imran Khan government released a new political map of Pakistan showing the entire erstwhile state, now organised into two UTs, and some parts of Gujarat in Pakistan. India reacted quickly and called it an “exercise in political absurdity”, which only confirmed the reality of Pakistan’s obsession with “territorial aggrandisement” supported by crossborder terrorism. “We have seen a so-called ‘political map’ of Pakistan that has been released by PM Imran Khan. This is an exercise in political absurdity...,” the government said.
Pak’s new map shows Siachen as its territory
This (Pakistan’s new map) is an exercise in political absurdity, laying untenable claims to territories in the Indian state of Gujarat and our Union Territories of J&K and of Ladakh,” the government said in a statement, adding that these ridiculous assertions had neither legal validity nor international credibility. Like with some earlier formal maps, Pakistan’s new “official map” also included Junagadh and Manavadar in Gujarat.
“The new map has only brought to the fore the contradiction in Pakistan’s position, between calling Kashmir an unfinished agenda of partition and its right to self-determination rhetoric,” TCA Raghavan, former diplomat who served as India’s envoy to Pakistan, said.
“The (Pakistani) government has to show that it’s moving mountains on the first anniversary of the reorganisation of J&K. It also has to do with their domestic issues,” he added, while calling it another case of misguided aspirations.
Leaving the frontier “undefined” on the Ladakh border with China in the new map, while describing J&K as disputed territory, Islamabad said the final status would be decided in line with “relevant” UNSC resolutions. It also showed Siachen in Pakistan. Ensuring ambiguity by leaving the frontier undefined in the map, Pakistan said the actual boundary in the region would “ultimately be decided by the sovereign authorities concerned after the settlement of the J&K dispute”.
Narendra Modi: 2014-19
See Narendra Modi
Visa, immigration issues
Eased immigration rules help Pak brides in India
Maharashtra has witnessed a six-fold increase in applications for Indian citizenship + from Pakistani nationals ever since relaxation and simplification of immigration rules in December 2017. The gainers include cross-border brides in Mumbai who have waited for citizenship for close to a decade.
Mahim's Zahida Ansari (36), originally from Karachi, got her citizenship after 10 years of her marriage to cousin Mohammed Azam. "The biggest advantage that comes with citizenship is the liberty to travel anywhere in India," said Asma Gazdhar, also born in Karachi. "Foreigners are not allowed to travel outside the city for which they secured a visa. I have not gone outside Mumbai in seven years." For this reason, none of these brides had a honeymoon. Even after having kids, family outings to even a neighbouring hill station such as Lonavla were a pipe dream.
Against an average of 10 applications every six months earlier, today nearly 50 to 60 migrants from Pakistan apply for Indian citizenship in Maharashtra during the period. "Applications are also cleared in a time-bound period now since the powers have been delegated to collectors in Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nagpur," a senior home department official told TOI on Saturday.
"Applications are processed in seven days, subject to a favourable police report," said Mumbai collector Shiva-jirao Jondhale. Currently, just seven applications for citizenship are pending in Mumbai.
Politician Gurumukh Jagwani from Jalgaon, a doctor by profession, migrated to India from Sindh in 1985 and succeeded in securing Indian citizenship in 1990. He was elected to the state legislative council in 2004 and re-elected in 2014. "It is a fact that there has been a spurt in migrants from Pakistan applying for citizenship for safety and security reasons," said Jagwani, pointing out that after Partition, Indian citizenship was granted to those who had lived in the country for five continuous years. During then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure, the period was reduced to two years for technocrats. When the UPA government took over, the period of continuous stay was enhanced to seven years.
Byculla resident Zeenat Fatima (34) is also from Karachi. Her husband Shahid Usmani, a software engineer, says they were married nine years ago and have two children. "My wife got her approval and within 15 months she got her card," he said.
Asma was 21 when she married Vaseem Gazdhar, an internet cable contractor, who lives in Temkar Street. "My mother hails from India and moved to Pakistan after marriage. Since childhood, I had been visiting India during my summer vacation to meet relatives in Jodhpur," she said. Now 30 and a mother of two, Asma and Vaseem are pleased that she has finally earned the red document that declares her an Indian national.
Since many of these cross-border marriages are consanguineous, the couple have relatives living in other cities or towns of India. Asma said, "I was unable to go to Jodhpur, where my elders, aunt, uncle and cousins live, for a family wedding. My grandmother passed away but I could not attend the funeral. I have not seen my parents in years. They arrived from Pakistan for the marriage in Rajasthan. But they did not get a visa to Mumbai and I was unable to go to Jodhpur in spite of putting in an application in New Delhi. We were in the same country but could not meet. That was a sad moment for us. Now I am eagerly looking forward to a reunion."
Each of them wishes that the law is amended to allow foreigners in India to pay hazri (attendance) at the local police station while travelling, until they receive nationality. Download The Times of India News App for Latest India News.
NIA puts Pakistani diplomat on ‘wanted’ list, releases his photo
Amir Zubair Siddiqui was posted as visa counsellor in the Pakistani High Commission in Colombo
Siddiqui had conspired to launch 26/11-type attacks on US and Israeli consulates in India and Army and Navy commands in south India
NIA preparing to send a request to Interpol seeking red corner notices against Siddiqui and 2 other Pakistani officers
In a first, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has put a Pakistani diplomat on its ‘wanted’ list and released his photo, seeking information.
It said the diplomat — Amir Zubair Siddiqui, who was posted as visa counsellor in the Pakistani High Commission in Colombo — had been included in the list along with two other Pakistani officers for conspiring to launch 26/11-type attacks on US and Israeli consulates besides Army and Navy commands in south India in 2014. NIA said a fourth Pakistani officer posted in the high commission in Sri Lanka was also involved in the conspiracy.
The development comes even as the agency is preparing to send a request to Interpol seeking red corner notices (RCNs) against the Pakistani officers, who have reportedly been repatriated to Islamabad.
While the NIA chargesheeted Siddiqui in February, the other three officers could not be identified. The two, who have been put on the ‘wanted’ list apart from Siddiqui, are a Pakistani intelligence officer who went by his alias ‘Vineeth’, and another official codenamed ‘Boss alias Shah’. This is the first time that India has put a Pakistani diplomat’s name in the ‘wanted’ list or sought a red corner notice against one, an official said.
According to the NIA, the Pakistani officers, while serving in Colombo from 2009 to 2016, planned to attack vital installations in Chennai and other places in south India with the help of their agents. Siddiqui allegedly hired Sri Lankan national Muhammed Sakir Hussaien and others, including Arun Selvaraj, Sivabalan and Thameem Ansari, all of whom were arrested by agencies.
After recruiting them, Siddiqui and the other Pakistani officers instructed them to collect information about defence installations, nuclear establishments and movement of arms and click photographs of such places, the NIA claimed. The Pakistanis also asked them to steal laptops of senior Indian Army officers and supply fake Indian currency notes (FICN), the agency said. They planned to attack the US consulate in Chennai, the Israeli consulate in Bengaluru, the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Visakhapatnam and various ports, the NIA claimed.
The US shared key information with India in the case which helped investigators nail the Pakistani officers. The code name for the plot to attack the US consulate in Chennai was ‘wedding hall’ which was to be executed by ‘cooks’, a code for terrorists who were to gain entry from the Maldives into India. Hussaien gave a detailed description of his meetings with various Pakistani officers based in Sri Lanka as well as two ‘fidayeen’ (suicide attackers) whom he had met in Bangkok. ‘Spice’ was the code name for the bombs, which were to beplanted at the consulate.
Pakistan bars envoy-pilgrims meet
A Sikh pilgrimage in Pakistan has turned out to be the occasion for the latest diplomatic skirmish between India and Pakistan.
India protested with the Pakistani foreign office on Sunday that visiting Sikh pilgrims were not allowed to meet the Indian high commissioner and other diplomats. The foreign ministry alleged that Indian diplomats were “compelled” to turn back when they went to meet the pilgrims at the famous Gurdwara Panja Sahib.
“India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan against this inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy, pointing out that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974, and the Code of Conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan) of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries,” an MEA statement said. India and Pakistan recently committed to follow the code of conduct after Indian and Pakistani diplomats were routinely harassed in each other’s capitals.
The MEA said an Indian high commission team “could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at Wagah railway station on April 12. Similarly, it was denied entry into Gurdwara Panja Sahib on April 14 for a scheduled meeting with pilgrims there. The high commission was thus prevented from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens”.
The MEA said Ajay Bisaria, high commissioner to Pakistan, who was to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib, was suddenly asked to return while en route to the shrine on Saturday, for unspecified “security” reasons.
The Pakistani foreign office released a statement saying India had misrepresented facts. “We deeply regret this Indian attempt to generate controversy around the visits of Sikh pilgrims and to vitiate the environment of bilateral relations,” it said.
The statement said Indian diplomats were cleared to travel to the gurdwara, but reportedly some Sikh pilgrims were “angry” over an Indian film on Guru Nanak. Posing as the protector of Sikh sentiments, the Pakistani foreign office said they asked the Indian high commissioner to stay back.
According to a source, another reason why Bisaria was not allowed to meet the Sikh pilgrims could be that some local authorities wanted to discuss the Khalistan issue with them. This, the source said, wouldn't have been possible in the presence of the Indian envoy.
A group of around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims travelled to Pakistan on April 12 to visit some revered shrines.
Pakistan’s stamps glorify Kashmiri militants
Stamps Re-Issued When Delhi Confirmed Swaraj-Qureshi Talks
After it called off talks between the foreign ministers, India last week issued a demarche to Pakistan over the issue of commemorative postage stamps glorifying Hizbul commander Burhan Wani whose killing in 2016 had led to another wave of unrest in the Valley. Diplomatic sources said Pakistan was asked to immediately withdraw these stamps.
India had mentioned it as one of the reasons for cancelling talks between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of UNGA. While the stamps were first issued in July this year, Indian authorities have said the stamps were re-issued around the time India confirmed the Swaraj-Qureshi meeting after receiving a proposal for the same from Pakistan PM Imran Khan.
India had said the release of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist had confirmed that Pakistan was not going to mend its ways. India had also blamed brutal killings of Indian security personnel by Pakistan-based entities in its statement announcing cancellation of the dialogue 24 hours after it was announced.
India had blamed Pakistan for the killing of a BSF soldier along the international border but Pakistan continues to deny its role in the incident. While it had earlier been reported that the jawan’s body was found mutilated, DG BSF K K Sharma denied this Friday saying that firing by Pakistan’s Border Action Team had caused his death.
Pakistan though has denied its involvement altogether citing before BSF what it calls circumstantial evidence to claim that the jawan’s death was probably a case of “fratricide”. Pakistan claims to have offered a meeting to BSF between senior officers to cooperate on the issue and locate the exact spot where the incident might have taken place. Accusing India of having rejected its offer, Pakistan has continued to maintain before BSF that it wouldn’t have been possible for anyone to kill an Indian soldier and mutilate his body at a place located just next to a manned Indian bunker.
The incident though is significant for India because, as Sharma had said, this was perhaps the first time that BAT action had taken place along the international border and not LoC. According to Sharma, the jawan had three bullets in his body and also had his throat slit. The rest, he said, was exaggerated.
India keeps Pakistan out of customs meet
Will Tell 21-Nation Summit To Isolate Rogue Nations
In another cold shoulder to Pakistan, India has not extended an invitation to the neighbouring country for a two-day meeting starting here on Tuesday where heads of Customs of at least 21 countries in the Asia Pacific will gather to devise a common strategy to counter organised crimes such as narco-terrorism, money laundering and gold smuggling.
Officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the lead agency organising the event alongside its 61st foundation day celebration, will hold discussions with representatives from South, South-East Asia, West Asia and international organisations.
Representatives of Interpol, UN Office for Drugs and Crime, and the World Customs Organisation are among the participants. New Delhi is likely to highlight recent cases of smuggling of arms and narcotics busted by DRI in the Akhnoor sector in J&K which showed deep linkages between drug-trafficking and cross-border terrorism.
“In the last three years, DRI has busted several international drug syndicates, besides 18 synthetic drug factories, illicitly manufacturing fatal drugs such as Fentanyl, Ketamine, Methamphetamine, Mephedron, Mandrax and Alprazolam,” a senior DRI official said.
The DRI is the government’s apex law enforcement agency responsible for countering organised crimes such as smuggling of arms, ammunitions, narcotic drugs, among others.
“Mutual strategy to counter organised crime related to drugs, precious metals and stones, environment, wildlife, money laundering and black economy are among subjects to be discussed at the meeting,” the official said.
India will convey its concerns and seek to isolate rogue nations providing state patronage to narco-terrorism and organised crime syndicates. This is the first time that India has invited Customs heads of 21 countries to deliberate on forming a common strategy to counter organised crime. Last year, DRI had seized huge quantities of heroin smuggled from Pakistan.
Power at envoy’s house in Pak disconnected
The Indian high commission in Islamabad is still awaiting gas supply for its new complex in the absence of Pakistan foreign ministry’s approval. Official sources said other cases of harassment too are being reported.
A few days ago, an Indian diplomat had power supply at his residence disconnected for hours. India later officially took up the matter with MoFA asking it to ensure that such power disruptions are avoided.
In a note verbale, the Indian high commission conveyed to the Pakistani foreign ministry that there was no electrical fault at the residence of the second secretary, suggesting that power was cut deliberately, sources said.
India, Pakistan threatened to unleash missiles at each other
The sparring between India and Pakistan last month threatened to spiral out of control and only interventions by US officials, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, headed off a bigger conflict, five sources familiar with the events said.
At one stage, India threatened to fire at least six missiles at Pakistan, and Islamabad said it would respond with its own missile strikes "three times over", according to Western diplomats and government sources in New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington.
The way in which tensions suddenly worsened and threatened to trigger a war between the nuclear-armed nations shows how the Kashmir region remains one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.
The exchanges did not get beyond threats, and there was no suggestion that the missiles involved were anything more than conventional weapons, but they created consternation in official circles in Washington, Beijing and London.
Reuters has pieced together the events that led to the most serious military crisis in South Asia since 2008, as well as the concerted diplomatic efforts to get both sides to back down.
The simmering dispute erupted into conflict late last month when Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight over Kashmir on Feb 27, a day after a raid by Indian jet fighters on what it said was a terrorist camp in Pakistan.
In their first such clash since the last war between the two nations in 1971, Pakistan downed an Indian plane and captured its pilot after he ejected in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
NO GOING BACK
That evening, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval spoke over a secure line to the head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Asim Munir, to tell him India was not going to back off its new campaign of "counter terrorism" even after the pilot’s capture, an Indian government source and a Western diplomat with knowledge of the conversations told Reuters in New Delhi.
Doval told Munir that India's fight was with the terrorist groups that freely operated from Pakistani soil and it was prepared to escalate, said the government source.
A Pakistani government minister and a Western diplomat in Islamabad separately confirmed a specific Indian threat to use six missiles on targets inside Pakistan. They did not specify who delivered the threat or who received it, but the minister said Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies "were communicating with each other during the fight, and even now they are communicating with each other".
Pakistan said it would counter any Indian missile attacks with many more launches of its own, the minister told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"We said if you will fire one missile, we will fire three. Whatever India will do, we will respond three times to that," the Pakistani minister said.
Doval’s office did not respond to a request for comment. India was not aware of any missile threat issued to Pakistan, a government official said in reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Pakistan’s military declined to comment and Munir could not be reached for comment. Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The crisis unfolded as US President Donald Trump was trying to hammer out an agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi over its nuclear programme.
US security advisor Bolton was on the phone with Doval on the night of Feb 27 itself, and into the early hours of Feb 28, the second day of the Trump-Kim talks, in an attempt to defuse the situation, the Western diplomat in New Delhi and the Indian official said.
Later, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was also in Hanoi, also called both sides to seek a way out of the crisis.
“Secretary Pompeo led diplomatic engagement directly, and that played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a briefing in Washington on March 5.
A State Department official declined comment when asked if they knew of the threats to use missiles.
Pompeo spoke to Doval, the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers Sushma Swaraj and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, respectively, Palladino said.
US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson told reporters in Singapore last week that he had separately been in touch with the Indian navy chief, Sunil Lanba, throughout the crisis. There was no immediate response from Lanba’s office to a question on the nature of the conversations.
US efforts were focused on securing the quick release of the Indian pilot by Pakistan and winning an assurance from India it would pull back from the threat to fire rockets, the Western diplomat in New Delhi and officials in Washington said.
"We made a lot of effort to get the international community involved in encouraging the two sides to de-escalate the situation because we fully realized how dangerous it was," said a senior Trump administration official.
The Pakistani minister said China and the United Arab Emirates also intervened. China’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The government of the UAE said Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan held talks with both Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
India has not given details, but has said it was in touch with major powers during the conflict.
On the morning of Feb 28, Trump told reporters in Hanoi that he expected the crisis to end soon.
“They have been going at it and we have been involved in trying to have them stop. Hopefully that is going to be coming to an end.”
Later that afternoon, Khan announced in Pakistan’s parliament that the Indian pilot would be released, and he was sent back the next day.
"I know last night there was a threat there could a missile attack on Pakistan, which got defused," Khan said. "I know, our army stood prepared for retaliation of that attack."
The two countries have gone to war three times since both gained independence in 1947, the last time in 1971. The two armies are trading fire along the line of control that separates them in Kashmir, but the tensions appear contained for now.
Diplomatic experts said that the latest crisis underlined the chances of misread signals and unpredictability in the ties between the nuclear-armed rivals, and the huge dangers.
“Indian and Pakistani leaders have long evinced confidence that they can understand each other’s deterrence signals and can de-escalate at will,” said Joshua White, a former White House official who is now at Johns Hopkins.
“The fact that some of the most basic facts, intentions and attempted strategic signals of this crisis are still shrouded in mystery ... should be a sobering reminder that neither country is in a position to easily control a crisis once it begins.”.
Pakistan expels Indian envoy, suspends bilateral trade
Stung by the Modi government’s decision to turn Article 370 into a dead letter, Pakistan expelled India’s high commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Wednesday to protest against the decision, which strips Jammu & Kashmir of its special status and splits the state into two Union territories.
With the Indian move, backed by big margins in both Houses of Parliament, signalling a resolve to bind J&K even more tightly to India, Pakistan sought to hit back and also declared it would suspend all bilateral trade. The actions seem intended to assure domestic audiences, including anti-India terror groups, which have for long been assured of Pakistan’s support for the Kashmir cause. Sources feel that Pakistan could also be seeking to create a spectre of an imminent military escalation to scare the Trump administration into nudging India to start negotiations over J&K with US in a mediator’s role. Pakistan also said it would take the Indian decisions on J&K to the United Nations, including the Security Council, while its independence day on August 14 will be observed as a protest and solidarity day.
The last time an envoy was expelled was in 2002 after terror attacks in India, including the one on Parliament, when New Delhi asked then Pakistan high commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi to withdraw. This, however, did not happen in the immediate wake of the Parliament attack on December 13, 2001. India first recalled its own envoy Vijay Nambiar from Pakistan in early 2002.
India downgrades ties
The already stuttering India-Pakistan ties took another hit with India on Tuesday asking Pakistan to reduce its staff at the high commission by 50%, following expulsion of Pakistani officials for espionage and the subsequent intimidation of Indian diplomatic-consular officials at the hands of the ISI in Islamabad.
The last time India asked for a similar reduction of staff was on December 27, 2001, exactly two weeks after the Jaish-e-Mohammad staged an attack on the Indian Parliament. As was the case in 2001, the government said in a statement that Pakistani officials here maintained contacts with terror outfits. The decision may be read as a signal that India does not see much point in maintaining diplomatic pretences in the face of hostile activities by Pakistan.
Mission staff to be cut to 55 from 110 in next 7 days
India does not see much point in maintaining diplomatic pretences after Pakistani officials’ hostile activities on Indian soil and physical abuse of its mission staff in Pakistan. Official sources here said following the government’s decision, India and Pakistan will both reduce the strength of their respective missions to 55 in the next 7 days. The mutually agreed strength until now has been 110. The government summoned Pakistan charge d’affaires Syed Haider Shah and told him that Pakistani officials had been engaged in acts of espionage and “maintained dealings” with terrorist organisations despite India's repeated concerns about their activities. The government recalled activities of the two officials “caught red-handed” and expelled on May 31 as one example in that regard.
The Pakistan foreign office said it “rejects and strongly condemns the baseless allegations made by the ministry of external affairs”. “Pakistan also rejects the insinuations of intimidation of Indian high commission officials in Islamabad. The Indian government’s smear campaign against Pakistan cannot obfuscate the illegal activities in which the Indian high commission officials were found involved in. The MEA’s statement is another effort to distort facts and deny the culpability of these Indian officials in criminal offences,” it said.
Bilateral ties were already downgraded with Pakistan having asked Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria to return after the decision to revoke J&K’s special status.
Sources said the situation had become untenable after the way in which Islamabad responded, as reported by TOI on June 15, by harassing and intimidating Indian officials. The situation came to a head the same day with the ISI abducting two Indian officials at gunpoint.
“While their officials indulged in actions that are not in conformity with their privileged status in the high commission, Pakistan has in parallel engaged in a sustained campaign to intimidate officials of the Indian high commission in Islamabad from carrying on their legitimate diplomatic functions,” said the government in a statement.