ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said it was not in favour of escalating tensions with India, days after it told Islamabad to reduce the staff in its high commission in New Delhi by half.
The Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday the Charge d’Affaires of Pakistan High Commission was summoned and informed about the decision which was based on instances of involvement of Pakistani officials in “acts of espionage” and “dealings with terrorist organisations”.
The activities of the two Pakistani mission officials caught red-handed and expelled on May 31 this year was one example, the MEA said in a statement.
India 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,” the statement said.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told the media that India’s move to reduce the Pakistani High Commission’s staff strength by 50 per cent was a part of its desperate attempts to divert attention from Kashmir.
“Pakistan has no desire to escalate the situation. We have always reacted with restraint.
“However, violation of diplomatic norms by Indian officials in Islamabad and India’s continued belligerent attitude is a threat to regional peace and security,” she said.
“Pakistan has been consistently sensitising the world community that irresponsible policies of the BJP government are increasingly imperiling regional peace and stability,” she said.
When asked about the possibility of cooperation with India to contain the COVID-19 and locusts, she said the “global pandemic is a common challenge demanding international cooperation among all the countries.”
Farooqui also said that Pakistan under the aegis of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was participating in meetings with India, Afghanistan, and Iran on a weekly basis and having a fruitful exchange of information regarding the border areas of Pakistan and India.
“We believe that the respective Technical Teams have been coordinating appropriately through FAO,” she said.
Farooqui claimed that India had committed 1,440 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control in six months, resulting in 13 deaths and serious injuries to 104 innocent civilians.
“We condemn the targeting of innocent civilians by the Indian forces, which are in clear violation of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding and in complete disregard for international human rights and international norms,” she said.
The spokesperson also said that the Afghan peace process had reached a critical stage following the signing of the landmark US-Taliban Peace Agreement.
“We hope that the release of prisoners will be completed as agreed in the US-Taliban Peace Agreement at the earliest to pave the way for the start of Intra-Afghan Negotiations, she said.
Farooquis said it was up to the Afghan parties to decide the venue for Intra-Afghan negotiations.
To another question on a new US law which calls for “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020”, she said the issue of Xinjiang was an internal matter of China.
“Pakistan’s position is clear and consistent. We believe matters related to Xinjiang are China’s internal affairs,” she said.