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India asks Pakistan to reduce its High Commission staff strength by 50 per cent

India asks Pakistan to reduce its High Commission staff strength by 50 per cent

In a strong diplomatic offensive, the government on Tuesday decided to reduce the staff of Pakistan's High Commission in India by 50 per cent, in view of their espionage activities and links with terror groups.

India will reciprocally reduce its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion. The decision is to be implemented in seven days.

The move comes after two Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad were abducted on gunpoint and tortured by Pakistani security agencies. A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said that the government summoned the Charge d' Affaires (CDA) of Pakistan and informed him about its decision related to the Pakistan High Commission.

India has repeatedly expressed concern about Pakistan High Commission officials indulging in espionage activities and maintaining dealings with terror outfits. The government recalled the recent case where two Pakistani visa officials were caught red-handed and expelled for spying last month.

The statement said that while the Pakistani officials indulged in actions that were not in conformity with their privileged status in the High Commission, Pakistan has in parallel engaged in a sustained campaign to intimidate the officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad from carrying out their legitimate diplomatic functions.

The government pointed out the recent case of the two Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad, who were kidnapped and subjected to torture.

"Their severe ill treatment underlines the extent to which Pakistan has gone in that direction," the government told the Pakistani CDA.

The officials returned to India on Monday and have now provided "graphic details of the barbaric treatment that they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies," the statement said.

The behaviour of Pakistan and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and the bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials, the government said.

"On the contrary, it is an intrinsic element of a larger policy of supporting cross-border violence and terrorism," it said.

Therefore, the government of India has taken the decision to reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50 per cent, the statement said, adding that India will reciprocate it in Islamabad..