Since last two weeks, ever since the Indian government deported two Pakistan High Commission officials from New Delhi after they were caught spying red-handed, Islamabad was desperate to make a tit-for-tat move and take a similar action against the staffers of Indian High Commission in their country.
Never in the past had it taken so long for the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to retaliate. Two to three days was the maximum time Pakistan took in the past to make the same number of Indians board a return flight home.
However, no action for over 14 days this time had put Imran Khan-led government's reputation at stake.
Attempts were made to harass and intimidate India's charge d'affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia with ISI spies posted outside his house and bikers chasing his car as he moved out. (https://indianarrative.com/india/isi-spies-harassing-top-indian-diplomat-in-islamabad-2805.html). But with no success.
The much-anticipated move was again made early today when the news of two Indian High Commission staffers missing trickled in. The two staffers—both officials of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) —were untraceable after 8.30 am and had not reached their destination.
As the Indian government mounted diplomatic pressure, Pakistan, hell-bent on playing the script of an intriguing drama, finally revealed after several hours of suspense that the two Indians have been arrested by the Islamabad police for their alleged involvement in a road accident.
"A vehicle, reportedly a BMW saloon, hit a pedestrian walking on the Embassy Road at around 8 a.m. today. The two Indian High Commission staffers, Silvades Paul and Dawamu Brahamu, tried to flee after the incident but were caught by bystanders and handed over to local police. The pedestrian was critically injured and was shifted to a nearby hospital for treatment, according to eyewitnesses," reported Pakistan's The Express Tribune newspaper. (https://tribune.com.pk/story/2243161/1-two-indian-high-commission-employees-arrested-hit-run-incident/)
While the authenticity of Pakistan's claims will be verified in the due course of time, staffers working in any diplomatic mission abroad would seldom commit the foolhardy act of fleeing the scene, if ever they were involved in the accident.
India has since taken up the matter with Pakistani counterparts to ensure the duo's safety.
Meanwhile, IANS sources in Delhi said Pakistan's charge d'affaire Syed Hyder Shah was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and demarched on the reported arrest of two officials.
India, in its protest against the arrests, has made it clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials. The responsibility for the safety and security of the concerned diplomatic personnel lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities, the government has conveyed to Pakistan.
Sources said the Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with their official car to the Indian High Commission immediately.
Last month, on May 31, the Indian law enforcement agencies had caught red-handed two Pakistani officials, Abid Hussain and Mohammad Tahir, for spying on the Indian Army. The duo used to meet Indian defence personnel as "businessmen" to get information for decoy news reporters. Both were declared persona non grata and expelled from India. (https://indianarrative.com/world/pak-officials-caught-spying-met-defence-personnel-as-businessmen-2638.html)
Since then, the Indian diplomats and consular officials in Islamabad are facing aggressive tailing and surveillance.
Last Friday, India registered a protest in the form of a note verbale to Pakistani authorities. India asked Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of the Indian High Commission and its staff and to allow them to resume their activities in keeping with the Vienna Convention.
India told Pakistan that the behavior of its agencies violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and also the bilateral 1992 Code of Conduct which the two countries signed to provide diplomats immunity from hostilities in ties.
<em>(With agency inputs)</em>.