Pakistan denying gas to Indian complex, India blocks Pak envoy Bengal visit
- The complex is now home to several Indian diplomats and other staff.
- According to sources, the supply of gas has not started, despite pipelines having been laid, because the same is yet to be approved by Pakistan government authorities including MoFA.
India and Pakistan are yet again faced with diplomatic harassment that marred ties between the two countries earlier this year. While Pakistan has denied gas to the newly constructed Indian residential complex in Islamabad, the Indian government earlier this month denied permission to Pakistan high commissioner Sohail Mahmood to visit Kolkata.
Both sides were quiet on why Mahmood was prevented from visiting West Bengal but, as official sources said here, Pakistan had been late in seeking approval for the visit. Both Indian and Pakistan high commissioners are required to seek approval from local authorities for any visit outside the capital.
This development came around the time Indian officials were raising with Pakistan the issue of delay in supply of gas to India’s newly constructed residential complex in Islamabad. Sources said that the issue had been repeatedly raised for over a month both here with the Pakistan high commission and with MoFA in Islamabad.
“Several note verbale have been issued but to no avail,’’ said an official source here.
The complex was at the centre of the dispute between India and Pakistan over harassment of diplomats in both capitals. A group of men was said to have raided the complex under construction then and disconnected water and electricity supply triggering diplomatic hostility which lasted for over a month.
The complex is now home to several Indian diplomats and other staff. According to sources here, the supply of gas has not started, despite pipelines having been laid, because the same is yet to be approved by Pakistan government authorities including MoFA. The cold weather has made it worse for residents of the complex as gas is required for activating the heating system.
The government has also raised with Pakistan a few other issues including abrupt blackouts in the homes of Indian diplomats. While these have not lasted very long, the power disruption has apparently taken place in the middle of formal receptions. In one instance recently, which was brought to Pakistan’s attention, an unidentified man tried to break open into the home of an Indian diplomat when he was not at home.
India has in the past accused Pakistan of blocking Indian government websites inconveniencing, among others, Pakistan nationals looking to apply for Indian visa. According to Indian officials, these websites are still not working properly in Pakistan and the issue has been taken up with Islamabad.
Indian diplomats have also been subjected to very aggressive surveillance in the past few weeks, sources here said.
While India put the blame for the crisis in February-March this year on a raid by ISI officials on the Indian residential complex, Pakistan had alleged that its diplomats and other staff faced harassment by Indian authorities 18 times between March 7 and March 9.
The issue was finally resolved in line with the 1992 Code of Conduct for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan. The Code of Conduct calls for “smooth and unhindered functioning of their diplomatic and consular officials in conformity with recognised norms of international law and practice’’.