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Pakistan high commissioner says Islamabad seeks to sort out diplomat harassment issue soon

The spike in tensions due to the cases of harassment and intimidation has dimmed hopes of a thaw between the two countries, sparked by Pakistan accepting proposals from India for the exchange of elderly, sick and women prisoners earlier this month. Photo: AFPPremium
The spike in tensions due to the cases of harassment and intimidation has dimmed hopes of a thaw between the two countries, sparked by Pakistan accepting proposals from India for the exchange of elderly, sick and women prisoners earlier this month. Photo: AFP

Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood, who was called back home for consultations amid a war of words over harassment of Indian diplomats in Pakistan and Pakistani diplomats in India, said the issue affects ties

New Delhi: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood on Friday said he had discussed the issue of alleged harassment of Pakistani diplomats stationed in India with his government and they would like to sort it out “as soon as possible".

Mahmood, who came back to India on Thursday, almost a week after he was called back home for consultations amid an war of words over the harassment of Indian diplomats in Pakistan and Pakistani diplomats in India, said such issues affect the relation between the two countries.

“I discussed this issue (harassment of Pakistani diplomats in India) with our government. We want to sort out this issue as soon as possible because it affects relations between the countries," Mahmood told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised to mark Pakistan’s National Day in New Delhi. The event commemorates the passing of the famous Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940, when the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate homeland for the Muslims of British India. It was also on 23 March in 1956 that Pakistan was declared an Islamic republic.

Mahmood was called home for consultations after reported remarks by the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Faisal Mahmood that the Indian government failed to take notice of the increasing incidents of intimidation of Pakistani diplomats, their families and staff by its intelligence agencies. India and Pakistan have accused each other of harassing diplomats in Islamabad and New Delhi respectively.

The spike in tensions due to the cases of harassment and intimidation has dimmed hopes of a thaw between the two countries, sparked by Pakistan accepting proposals from India for the exchange of elderly, sick and women prisoners earlier this month.

On Friday, Mahmood also said that all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir dispute, can be resolved through dialogue, which will usher in an “era of peace and stability" in South Asia.

This came as Pakistan’s president Mamnoon Hussain, in a speech in Islamabad, accused India of violating the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two countries saying the Indian government’s actions had put regional peace at stake. Referring to cross-border ceasefire violations, Hussain accused India of human rights violations in Kashmir. “With these actions, Pakistan’s neighbour has put the regional peace at stake," he was cited as saying by PTI.

Calling upon for an immediate and peaceful resolution of the struggle of Kashmiri people,  Hussain said, “The only solution to the dispute of Kashmir is to provide the right of self-determination to Kashmiris, and Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard." He said that Pakistan was ready to extend a hand of co-operation to regional countries, but “taking it as a weakness will be a dangerous mistake."

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