Longtime rivals India and Pakistan on Tuesday announced they have decided to reduce by half staff at each other’s High Commissions, in yet another sign of escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan and India are to cut diplomatic staff following a recent downturn in their already sour relations.
A day after two Indian officials who had been taken into Pakistani custody returned home, India ordered the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi to halve the strength of its staff size. https://t.co/8R1TTOwUvn
— The Wire (@thewire_in) June 24, 2020
“The Government of India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50%. 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,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Pakistan, India to cut diplomatic staff: India summons top Pakistani diplomat
Pakistan’s Charge d’ Affaires Haider Shah was summoned on Tuesday to the Ministry of External Affairs a week after two Indian embassy staff were briefly detained in Islamabad following an alleged hit-and-run incident.
Read more: How an Indian sees Pakistan
The Indian government said that the “behavior of Pakistan and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials”.
India expels dozens of Pakistan diplomatic staff, accusing them of spying and dealing with terrorists https://t.co/uq2jB8kNJd
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 23, 2020
Earlier, India had expelled two Pakistani High Commission officials for alleged ‘espionage’, a claim that Pakistan denied.
“On the contrary, it is an intrinsic element of a larger policy of supporting cross-border violence and terrorism,” the release said.
Hours after the Indian move, Pakistan, In a tit-for-tat response, asked New Delhi to reduce its High Commission strength by half.
The Indian Charge d’ Affaires in Islamabad was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and conveyed “Pakistan’s rejection and condemnation of the baseless Indian allegations”.
“Pakistan categorically rejects and strongly condemns the baseless allegations made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs as a pretext to seek 50% reduction in the staff strength of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi,” said a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
“The Indian Charge d’ Affaires was also informed of Pakistan’s decision to reduce the Indian High Commission’s staff strength by 50% as a reciprocal measure. The Charge d’ Affaires was asked to implement the decision conveyed to him within seven days,” the statement added.
Dismissing Indian allegations of violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by Pakistani High Commission officials in New Delhi, Islamabad reiterated that its diplomats “always function within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms”.
Pakistan also rejected the “insinuations” of “intimidation” of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad, accusing New Delhi of toeing a “smear campaign” against Islamabad, which “cannot obfuscate the illegal activities in which the Indian High Commission officials were found involved in”.
“The latest Indian action is a part of India’s desperate attempts to divert attention from its state-terrorism and worst human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, ” it went on to say.
Pakistan and India: birth twins and arch rivals
Since their independence as new nations in 1947, India and Pakistan have followed a path of mutual animosity. Pakistan was created as a national homeland for the Muslim-majority areas of the subcontinent, while India proposed to become a secular nation that included about 85 percent Hindus, but also more than ten percent Muslims as well as large numbers of Sikhs, Christians and members of other religions.
Soon after the partition of the sub-continent into the two nations, about 17 million people fled their homes and journeyed to either Pakistan or India. In one of the largest exchanges of populations in history, violence soon broke out with Muslims on one side and Sikhs and Hindus on the other. The resulting blood shed in the Punjab and West Bengal regions left more than one million people dead in its wake.
In the midst of this refugee movement and open violence, the governments of India and Pakistan hastily tried to divide the assets of British India between the two new countries. From weapons and money, down to paper clips and archaeological treasures, all had to be divided.
In 1947, 1965 and 1971 India and Pakistan fought wars that did not change the status of Kashmir, but did result in the 1971 further partition of West and East Pakistan into the two nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The two nuclear-armed neighbors have been arch rivals since their independence from Britain in 1947.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk
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