New Delhi: India has asked its diplomats posted in Pakistan to shift their wards out of schools in the country due to security reasons.
“With effect from this academic session, officials posted in the high commission of India in Islamabad have been advised to make arrangements for the education of their wards outside Pakistan, till further notice," external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a note.
The statement said as per normal practice, India had reviewed staffing and related policies for its mission in Islamabad, “including in view of prevailing circumstances at those stations".
According to people familiar with the developments, India took this decision in June 2015 and communicated it to its Islamabad mission staff. This was to ensure there was enough time for the students and their guardians to make alternative arrangements. “The decision has been taken following the December 2014 attack on the school in Peshawar," said one of the persons cited above.
The person was referring to an attack by the Pakistani Taliban, who targeted an army-run school in Peshawar. The attack left more than 140 people dead, including 132 children. The attack was described as one of the Taliban’s deadliest in Pakistan.
There are some 60 Indian children studying in two schools in Islamabad. The new school session is to start in August.
In Islamabad, the Pakistan foreign office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria, said the Indian government’s decision was “an informal, internal, administrative arrangement we were informed of two months back. No other considerations were communicated to us".
According to a second person on the Indian side familiar with the matter, India’s decision was communicated to Pakistan immediately after the decision was taken last June and was unrelated to any war of words between India and Pakistan over developments in Kashmir.
A similar ‘no-kids’ policy was being followed by Germany, France, Australia, among others, the person added.
The two South Asian neighbours have been engaged in a verbal duel since the killing of Islamist militant Burhan Wani by Indian security forces in Kashmir.