Treatment of Indian guests at Indian High Commission
India has issued a public statement of protest over the harassment of guests attending an Iftar party hosted by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on June 1. Guests were allegedly intimidated and stopped by Pakistani security force personnel from attending the event. Those who did attend reportedly had their cars towed away. Describing the action by Pakistani security forces as “against all notions of civilised behaviour”, India has asked the Pakistan government to conduct an inquiry into the incident.
Treatment of Pakistanis at Indian High Commission
This development follows alleged actions by Indian security agencies in stopping guests to the Pakistan High Commission National Day function in New Delhi in March, as well as at its Iftar party on May 27. On both occasions, the Pakistan government had protested in similar terms, terming the behaviour of the security agencies towards invitees as being in “blatant disregard of traditional eastern values” and violative of the Vienna convention for diplomatic protocol.
Analysis of behaviour
Both governments are following a tit-for-tat approach to ties, targeting even diplomatic missions.
Positive steps required
Post-elections, the Indian Air Force has removed airspace restrictions, and Pakistan has begun to open airspace routes to and from India that it had closed after the Pulwama attack. Such positive steps need to be augmented. Earlier, Pakistan granted former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj permission to fly over its territory, and India made a similar concession to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister. India and Pakistan have extremely serious issues to resolve. The harassment of diplomats and their guests is a diversion from the issues at hand.