Pakistan mulls tit-for-tat action after two officials expelled over ‘espionage’

A vehicle carrying an Indian diplomat leaves the foreign ministry following a meeting with Kulbhushan Jadhav, an imprisoned Indian convicted of spying, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (AP Photo)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Pakistan mulls tit-for-tat action after two officials expelled over ‘espionage’

  • New Delhi’s act of detaining and torturing personnel unacceptable, High Commission official says 
  • Pakistan and India downgraded their diplomatic relations in August last year

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Monday it is working on reciprocatory measures a day after India expelled two diplomats on “espionage” charges, with the two on their way to Islamabad from New Delhi this morning, senior officials told Arab News.

“Both our officials are on the way to Pakistan, as they are coming by road from New Delhi, so they will reach Wagah border by evening. Reciprocity in such acts is a normal procedure, and it is in the process,” Khawaja Maaz, spokesperson of Pakistan’s High Commission to India, told Arab News on the phone from New Delhi.

It follows a statement by India’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday which said that the officials had been apprehended and asked to leave the country within 24 hours for “indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission.”

Pakistan slammed New Delhi’s statement and said that the charges were “false and unsubstantiated.”

“Pakistan has always followed the diplomatic norms and conventions that govern diplomatic relations between any two countries. We are a law-abiding country. We will take whatever step required to reciprocate and ensure the safety of our officers and diplomates in India,” Aisha Farooqui, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokeswoman, told Arab News.

She added that the atmosphere of bilateral relations with India was already taut and that “this step of expelling Pakistani diplomats on false allegations will add to it.”

“There are a series of actions India has taken unilaterally like sending spy drones, maligning Pakistan on fake accusations and harassing high commission officials,” she said, adding that the latest move was “unacceptable.”

“Now they (India) went to a new low by detaining officials of our high commission, torturing them and pressurizing them to own up to false allegations. It is completely unacceptable,” Farooqui said.

Detailing the procedural steps that would follow, she said that India’s action was in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and norms.

“In this regard, the Indian Charge d’Affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office last night for a strong demarche, conveying Pakistan’s condemnation of the Indian decision to declare two officials of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi persona non grata and rejection of all baseless Indian allegations against the High Commission officials,” Farooqui said.

Pakistan and India downgraded their diplomatic relations in August last year when New Delhi revoked the special legal status of Indian-administered Kashmir. 

The countries have fought two wars over the region and their forces regularly trade fire across the de facto border between the two countries, which is the 740-km long Line of Control.

300 Pakistani doctors return to Saudi after getting stuck in their country

Updated 10 July 2020

300 Pakistani doctors return to Saudi after getting stuck in their country

  • The medical professionals had taken leave from work before the COVID-19 outbreak and were visiting relatives in Pakistan
  • The remaining 200 doctors are scheduled to fly back to the Kingdom next week, says Pakistan’s envoy in Riyadh

ISLAMABAD: More than 300 Pakistani doctors, employed by Saudi hospitals, flew back to the Kingdom last week after getting stuck in their country for months due to the suspension of international flight operations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz told Arab News on Friday.
The medical professionals had taken leave before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and were visiting relatives in Pakistan.
“Over 300 Pakistani medics and their families returned to Saudi Arabia last week,” the envoy informed. “The remaining 200 are scheduled to return during the second week of July.”
Ejaz said the embassy had raised the issue of Pakistani doctors with the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 2020, soliciting permission for their return so they could help the Kingdom in its battle against the contagion.
“Pakistani doctors are working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic and constitute the backbone of the Kingdom’s COVID-19 response,” Dr. Asad Ullah Roomi, president of the Pakistan Doctors’ Group in Riyadh, told Arab News.
He added that the return of the Pakistani medical professionals would help Saudi Arabia deal with the new coronavirus.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Pakistan Embassy that made it possible for these doctors to return to the Kingdom and resume their duties,” he added.
Dr. Imran Chaudhry, resident physician at the Convalescence Hospital & PT Center, Al-Baha, was stuck in Lahore and recently returned to the Kingdom to rejoin his work.
He thanked the Saudi government for facilitating the return of the doctors, saying their presence in the country was vital to help COVID-19 patients.
“We wanted to rejoin our duty to serve the people in need, and the Saudi government turned it into a smooth process. The Kingdom even provided free tickets to those who could not make travel arrangements for their families,” he told Arab News.
“We had to wait for a long time, but we are back in Saudi Arabia now. At the moment, we have quarantined ourselves, but we will resume our work in the next few days,” Chaudhary said.