New Delhi: There is a nervous unease in the diplomatic bylanes of both New Delhi and Islamabad. Barbs and accusations have been fired with almost as much intensity as bullets by both countries – charging each other of harassing its diplomats and hounding their families.
Diplomatic tensions escalated last month when ISI agents reportedly barged into an under-construction residential complex meant to house Indian diplomats in Islamabad. They then cut off electricity and water supply in the complex which is opposite the Indian High Commission. While these have still not been restored, construction at the complex itself has faced numerous hurdles due to delayed clearances. While the matter has been escalated to highest levels in Islamabad, and despite assurances given, it is learnt that work remains arduously slow.
And that is not all.
Media reports claim that the Indian High Commissioner’s car was recently stopped in the middle of a busy road to prevent him from attending a lunch function in Karachi. This was not only an invasion of private space but also a breach in security. These and a number of other surveillance, intimidation and tailing tactics is becoming uncomfortably common for Indian diplomats who have also been denied membership of the Islamabad Club which is otherwise open to all diplomats.
Pakistan has claimed that Islamabad Club’s decision to rethink entry of Indian diplomats is in reaction to clubs in Delhi charging Pakistani diplomats a premium. The Indian government though has said the said clubs – Gymkhana and Golf Club – are private and the government cannot interfere in their functioning. But Islamabad is in no mood to listen and, instead, has upped the charge and accused India of intimidating its officials in Delhi.
According to reports, Pakistan High Commission has written four note verbale to the Ministry of External Affairs claiming its officials are being harassed. In its most recent charge, the Pakistan Foreign Office went to the extent of saying children of Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi were harassed when they were en route to their school in an embassy vehicle. The country has threatened to pull out family members of its diplomats.
While both countries continue to accuse each other of harassing its diplomats, the diplomats themselves are believed to be taking all precautions possible.