FPJ Edit: Pakistan left no other option for India

The downturn in the Indo-Pak ties was widely expected. After India expelled two mid-level diplomats of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi on spying charges last month, Pakistan in a tit-for-tat response physically assaulted two Indian diplomats on wholly trumped-up charges before declaring them persona non grata. The two were picked up by the Pakistani spy agency and taken to an unknown place and tortured by the ISI thugs. Only when India lodged a strong protest against their disappearance did Pakistan release them. Photographs of the two Indians returning home through the Wagah border showed tell-tale evidence of the inhuman treatment Pakistan accords to diplomats accredited to Islamabad. This is in breach of the basic tenets of the diplomatic code to which Pakistan is a signatory under the Vienna Convention. In a statement on Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs said that the behaviour of Pakistan and its officials was not in conformity with the widely accepted code for diplomats. “On the contrary, Pakistan is an intrinsic element of a larger policy of supporting cross-border violence and terrorism”, the MEA asserted. It is, therefore, welcome that the government has decided to curtail the staff strength of its own mission in Islamabad and Pakistan’s in New Delhi by half. The Indian mission in Pakistan will now be reduced to 55. Pakistan will have to do it likewise. This is the first time since the attack on Parliament in 2001 that such a reduction in strength in the two missions is being enforced. This is to be done in the next two days. Quite clearly, the government has decided that Pakistan is unlikely to return to the path of sanity. Aside from continuing its terrorist activities in Kashmir, Pakistan has tried to exploit the current India-China border standoff to whip up trouble against India. Ten months ago Pakistan had downgraded ties with India, withdrawing its High Commissioner following the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370. India too had followed suit, handing over charge to its Acting High Commissioner. Outright rejection of the Indian charges by Pakistan, even denying, in the face of clear evidence of physical torture of two Indian diplomats, that it had maltreated them, came as no surprise. Ties between the two neighbours are likely to take a turn for the worse, given that Pakistan will try and create further mischief believing that India is distracted by its on-going standoff with China. However, given the fast diminishing influence of Pakistan in various global multilateral forums and its mounting economic and political difficulties, there is not much else that it can do to trouble India. Pakistan deludes itself it can sidestep its insurmountable domestic crises by playing the India card. Even its long-suffering people can no longer be fooled by the Rawalpindi GHQ which actually has Pakistan under its jackboot.

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