Sunday, May 29, 2022

2 Indian High Commission Officials, Arrested in Islamabad, Released After Delhi Lodges Protest

The incident comes after two Pakistani officials at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi were accused of espionage and deported.

2 Indian High Commission Officials, Arrested in Islamabad, Released After Delhi Lodges Protest
The Indian High Commission in Islamabad File Image

Pakistani authorities on Monday evening released two Indian High Commission staffers in Islamabad hours after they were reportedly arrested for their alleged involvement in a "hit and run accident".

Top government sources confirmed that the two Indian staffers were released by Pakistani authorities and they are back at the Indian High Commission.

The duo left the High Commission in a vehicle for official duty at around 8:30 AM (IST) and did not reach their destination, the sources said.

India summoned the Pakistan charge d'affaires in Delhi and lodged a strong protest over the reported arrest of the two officials.

Pakistani media had reported that the two Indian staffers were arrested for their alleged involvement in a "hit and run accident"

Official sources said the Pakistan charge d'affaires (CDA) was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and a demarche was issued to him, making it clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials and the responsibility for their safety and security lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities.

The sources said the Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately.

"Two Indian High Commission officials are missing since morning while on official work. The matter has been taken up with the Pakistani authorities," Akhilesh Singh, First Secretary and spokesperson, Indian High Commission, Pakistan, said.

According to sources quoted by PTI news agency, the MEA told the  Pakistan's Charge d'affaires to India that the responsibility of safety and security of Indian personnel in Islamabad "lays squarely with Pakistani authorities."

The incident comes two weeks after India expelled two Pakistan High Commission officials here on charges of espionage. India had declared Abid Hussain and Muhammad Tahir as 'persona non grata' after they were found obtaining sensitive documents relating to movement of Indian Army troops from an Indian national, according to authorities here.

Following their expulsion, Pakistani agencies started harassing a number of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad including charge d'affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia.

Pakistan had downgraded diplomatic ties by expelling the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad following India's decision to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year.