Pakistan releases arrested high commission staff after India lodges strong protest

Two junior staffers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad released after being arrested by Pakistani authorities for their alleged involvement in a ‘hit-and-run accident’, which left a pedestrian injured.

After a strong Indian protest, Pakistan police released two staffers of the Indian High Commission, who arrested by Pakistani authorities for their alleged involvement in a “hit and run accident”. According to reports in Pakistani media, the two staffers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were arrested after they were involved in a hit-and-run accident earlier on Monday which left a pedestrian injured.

The two staffers went missing at 8:30 am and since then were untraceable. India has since taken up the matter with Pakistani counterparts to ensure safety of the Indian officials.

Sources in Islamabad said, “Two Indian diplomats have been arrested by police authorities” after they were allegedly “involved in a road accident”. Both are security officials of India’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), assigned as security to the High Commissioner and other diplomats. The officials, as per police sources, “were over speeding when the accident occurred”. However, there was no official communication from Pakistan.

At least one person has been injured in the accident, sources said, adding that as the two Indian staffers tried to flee, the locals stopped them. Later the police arrived and arrested both of them. Sources this morning had said that both the Indian High Commission staffers were out on duty in Islamabad and did not reach their destination. Strangely, there was no information about the two till the evening even as the Indian government had taken up the matter with the concerned Pakistan authorities.

Sources in New Delhi said Pakistan’s charge d’affaires Syed Hyder Shah was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and demarched on the reported arrest of two officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

 India, in its protest against the arrests, has made it clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials. The responsibility for the safety and security of the concerned diplomatic personnel lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities, the government has conveyed to Pakistan.

 Sources told IANS that the Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with their official car to the Indian High Commission immediately. The intriguing drama of the arrest of the two officials has come two weeks after the Indian government deported two Pakistan High Commission officials from New Delhi after they were caught spying red-handed.

Indian law enforcement agencies had caught red-handed two Pakistani officials, Abid Hussain and Mohammad Tahir, for spying on the Indian Army on 31 May. The duo used to meet Indian defence personnel as “businessmen” to get information for decoy news reporters. Both were declared persona non grata and expelled from India.

Amid this, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad is finding it difficult to resume normal functioning as Indian diplomats and consular officials are facing aggressive tailing and surveillance. Last Friday, India registered a protest in the form of a note verbale to Pakistani authorities. India asked Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of the Indian High Commission and its staff and to allow them to resume their activities in keeping with the Vienna Convention.

India told Pakistan that the behaviour of its agencies violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and also the bilateral 1992 Code of Conduct which the two countries signed to provide diplomats immunity from hostilities in ties.