Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India has been called home to discuss claims of intimidation and harassment in New Delhi, as the south Asian rivals swapped accusations of mistreatment of their diplomats – including bizarre allegations of spies ringing doorbells and running away.
Sohail Mahmood has returned to Islamabad after 26 incidents were reported by Pakistani envoys in Delhi in the past eight days, including two allegations their children were approached at school.
India responded by saying its diplomats had recently been abused and vilified in Islamabad.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal said Islamabad’s pleas to Indian officials to investigate the incidents had fallen on deaf ears.
“Our High Commissioner in New Delhi has been asked to come to Islamabad for consultations,” he said.
The blame has on the surface been placed on hostile members of the public, but both countries implied the hand of spies – India’s Intelligence Bureau and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – were behind the spate of aggressive acts, using old fashioned espionage tactics, apparently now mixed with playground pranks.
Indian deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, J P Singh, said his doorbell was rung at 3am last week, and no one was there when he answered the door.
The Indians, believing the ISI was to blame, then did the same to Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi, Syed Haider Shah, ringing his doorbell at 3am.
Videos posted online and in news reports in Pakistan showed Mr Mahmood’s car being forced to halt in Delhi, as a car pulled in front and slowed right down, after which two men got out and with cameras and took pictures of the interior.
A Pakistani diplomat in the vehicle is said to have shot the footage.
India said the current escalation in skullduggery began when a development under construction for Indian diplomats in Islamabad was raided by the ISI last month and they cut the power and water supply, the Times of India reported.
Mr Mahmood said the latest events were harming diplomacy. He told the Indian Express: “The current approach and methods only militate against such efforts, while holding no prospect of advancing any particular objective. A rethink is in order.
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Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have a history of bitter relations, often accusing each other’s diplomatic staff of spying.
They also often trade fire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both countries claim in its entirety.