NEW DELHI: Two staff of the
Indian high commission
in Islamabad while out on official work in the Indian mission's car were "abducted" by
agencies early morning Monday. After they were interrogated for several hours, reports emerged from Islamabad claiming they had been arrested for a road accident by the police.
The two non-diplomatic staff (names withheld) were finally released in the evening but not before Pakistan authorities claimed to have seized Pakistani Rs 10000 in fake currency from them. Indian authorities denied that the two men were carrying any fake currency and expressed apprehension that they were held for hours on trumped-up charges only to manufacture a case for declaring them persona non grata (PNG). The Indian staff also had injury marks on their bodies, sources said.
As reported by TOI Monday, Pakistan's ISI had subjected Indian officials to aggressive tailing and intimidation since May 31 and India only on Friday had registered a formal protest accusing Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention and the 1992 bilateral Code of Conduct for diplomats.
The Indian high commission got the two staff medically examined in the night to ascertain if they received any serious injury during the questioning which lasted for almost 12 hours. Pakistan media reports claimed that the two were roughed up by a mob which caught them fleeing from the accident spot. The government had earlier expressed fear that Indian staff could be detained on false charges and tortured. There were conflicting reports in Pakistan media about how the accident occurred.
Official sources here didn't rule out the possibility of Pakistan declaring the two Indian staff as PNG for carrying fake currency on them. Pakistan agencies have been looking to enforce reciprocity, as a source said, after India detained two Pakistan officials here on May 31 for espionage and expelled them the next day.
The Indian mission quickly took up the matter with Pakistan foreign office in the morning and, later in the day,
called in Pakistan charge d'affaires Syed Haider Shah and asked the country to release the Indian officials and return their car. The government also asked him to ensure Indian officials were not harassed or interrogated.
All Indian staff in Islamabad, and their counterparts here, are generally covered by
and it's waived only in cases of heinous crime.
"Pakistan charge d'affaires was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and demarched on the reported arrest of two officials of the High Commission of India in Islamabad as reported in the Pakistani media," said an official source.
The demarche also said that the responsibility for the safety and security of the concerned diplomatic personnel lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities.
"Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately," said the source.
As TOI had reported on Monday, the Indian high commission led by charge d'affaires
had been finding it difficult to function normally since May 31, faced as Indian staff was with incessant and aggressive tailing and surveillance.