India lodges another protest with Pakistan over harassment of its diplomatic staff

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Representatives from 50 countries will be gathering in New Delhi on 19-20 March for an informal World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting.

Thew two countries have a history of bitter relations and often accuse each other's diplomatic staff of spying.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is also unlikely to participate in the WTO meeting called by India to discuss ways to take forward important issues in the WTO. Although Pakistan had not formally accepted the invitation, the minister was likely to attend the meeting and meet his Indian counterpart Suresh Prabhu.

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He said India should also stop the alleged violations of the ceasefire on the Line of Control that led to death of civilians and also stop "atrocities" in Kashmir.

This would have been the first such high-level visit from Pakistan since the visit of Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz here in December 2016 for the "Heart of Asia" Summit. As of today, it appears only the national security advisers of the two countries are in regular touch but this channel was insufficient to prevent the escalation in the row over the diplomats.

Mahmood arrived here last evening for consultations after Pakistan alleged repeated harassment of its diplomats in New Delhi. "This was the 12th Note Verbale this year on the subject", reported news agency ANI, quoting sources. New Delhi alleged that its diplomats were facing harassment and being prevented from discharging their duties in Islamabad.

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Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Saturday sent another note verbale to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan protesting against intimidation and harassment of the Indian officials in Pakistan.

Pakistani officials even released a video of such "harassment", in which a white auto is seen blocking their diplomat's vehicle in Delhi and people on motorcycles abusing and filming the occupants.

"The website of the High Commission continues to be intermittently blocked causing inconvenience and affecting the normal functioning of the Mission", the person said adding that the Indian high commission has asked the Pakistan Government to "investigate these incidents and ensure that such incidents do not recur and share the result of the investigation with us".

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