Pakistan not to attend WTO meet starting on Monday

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on March 18, 2018 Published on March 18, 2018

Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood was recently summoned to Islamabad for consultations over incidents of harassment of diplomats   -  PTI

Fallout of recent incidents of alleged harassment of Pakistani diplomats in India

Pakistan has informed India that it will not be sending its Minister of Commerce Pervez Malik to India even as India gears up to host an informal meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) beginning on Monday.

“In the wake of recent incidents (of harassment) no one will attend WTO conference from Pakistan,” diplomatic sources told BusinessLine requesting anonymity.

Representatives from over 40 countries are expected to take part in the informal WTO meet. India had last hosted such an informal WTO meeting in 2009.

Last month India had extended an invitation to Malik to attend the informal WTO meeting. This was seen as a sign of thawing of ties amidst mounting tensions at the Line of Control (LoC) with repeated incidents of ceasefire violations.

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.

Speculation regarding revival of dialogue between India and Pakistan started gaining ground ever since the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of both countries Ajit Doval and Nasser Janjua took place in December last year in Thailand.

Worsening climate

However, matters started to worsen once again as incidents of harassment and heckling of Pakistani diplomats and their families stationed in New Delhi began coming to light. As a result of this, the High Commissioner of Pakistan Sohail Mahmood was asked to visit Islamabad at short notice for consultations.

Sources also indicated that Mahmood may not be coming back to India unless the Indian government ensures safety and security of the Pakistani diplomats.

On the other hand, Indian diplomats in Islamabad have complained of shortage in supply of water and gas in their residential complexes there and doorbells being run in the wee hours of the morning.

While India has said it is looking into the incidents, it sought to downplay them and stated that the visit of High Commissioner Mahmood to Islamabad is “routine and normal”, according to Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

India’s plea

Kumar also added that India wants its mission in Pakistan to function normally, in keeping with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.

Indian diplomats based in Pakistan have alleged that Pakistani intelligence officials have entered their residential complexes.

Sources said that if Mahmood does not come back to India, it would tantamount to recalling of the High Commissioner.

Pakistan has also said that despite bringing the matter of harassment to the notice of Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, no firm action was being taken.

Published on March 18, 2018

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