India on Tuesday announced that it has taken a decision to reduce the staff strength in Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and Indian mission in Islamabad by 50 per cent as behaviour of the neighbouring country and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday summoned Charge d’ Affaires of Pakistan Syed Haider Shah and informed that India had repeatedly expressed concern about the activities of officials of Pakistan High Commission. The decision to reduce the strength of high commission officials, which is to be implemented in seven days, was conveyed to Shah.

The MEA, in a statement, said Pakistan high commission officials “have been engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terrorist organizations”.

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“The activities of the two officials caught red-handed and expelled on May 31, 2020 was one example in that regard. The behaviour of Pakistan and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials. On the contrary, it is an intrinsic element of a larger policy of supporting cross-border violence and terrorism,” the statement read.

“Therefore, the Government of India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50 per cent. It would reciprocally reduce its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion. This decision, which is to be implemented in seven days, was conveyed to the Pakistani Charge d’Affaires,” it added.

Yesterday, two of Indian officials working with Indian mission in Pakistan, who were forcibly abducted by Pakistani agencies on June 15 and kept in illegal custody for more than 10 hours, returned to India. Earlier this month, two of the Pakistan High Commission officials were caught spying and were sent back.

India has time and again accused and caught red-handed Pak High Commission officials indulging in non-diplomatic activities like funding of separatists, money laundering and espionage.

The MEA said Pakistan officials indulged in actions that are not in conformity with their privileged status in the High Commission and also Pakistan has in parallel engaged in a sustained campaign to intimidate the officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad from carrying on their legitimate diplomatic functions.

“The recent abduction at gunpoint of two Indian officials and their severe ill-treatment underlines the extent to which Pakistan has gone in that direction. These officials, who have returned to India on June 22, 2020, have provided graphic details of the barbaric treatment that they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies,” it added.

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