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Archive for India

Newsline: India selects key diplomat as new Taiwan envoy

India has selected a senior diplomat as its new envoy to Taiwan following recent border tensions with China. Gourangalal Das, currently joint secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), has been tipped as the next Indian representative to Taiwan, according to The Indian Express Sunday-version, the Sunday Express. An official government announcement is expected soon, according to the paper. India and Taiwan do not enjoy formal diplomatic ties as New Delhi recognizes the “one-China” policy, although it does have a Taipei office to carry out diplomatic functions. Named the India-Taipei Association, Das is slated to be its new director general, replacing career diplomat Sridharan Madhusudhanan, the paper reported. (https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3965470) In India’s MEA, a joint secretary who handles New Delhi’s U.S. relations is considered a key official, along with those dealing with China and Pakistan, the paper cited. Das, who is fluent in Mandarin, entered the Indian Foreign Service in 1999, and was stationed in Beijing between 2001 and 2004. During Manmohan Singh’s tenure, Das also served as a deputy secretary handling external affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office. He was kept on for the transition in 2014. As Counsellor (Political) at the Indian Embassy in Washington, Das played an important role during Prime Minister Modi’s 2017 U.S. meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. After returning to New Delhi, he was asked by then Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to set up the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, a think tank studying China.

Newsline: UAE embassy condemns misuse of diplomatic channels to smuggle gold to India

The UAE has condemned the misuse of diplomatic channels to smuggle gold to India and denied having any role after customs authorities in Kerala on Sunday seized 30kg of the precious metal that was marked to the UAE consulate in the south Indian state. Indian media reported on Sunday that customs officials at the Thiruvanathapuram international airport had foiled a gold smuggling attempt after they seized a parcel that was sent as air cargo from Dubai to the UAE consulate. “The Embassy of the UAE in India condemns the attempted misuse of diplomatic channels by an individual engaged in smuggling activity. The embassy firmly rejects such acts and unequivocally affirms that the mission and its diplomatic staff had no role in this matter,” the mission said in a statement. (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/general/uae-embassy-condemns-misuse-of-diplomatic-channels-to-smuggle-gold-to-india-) Diplomatic packages are swiftly cleared at airports. But customs officials got suspicious and checked the packet. The officials are investigating the case. “Initial inquiries conducted by the mission revealed that a former locally hired employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram was responsible for this act. The employee in question was fired for misconduct long preceding this incident,” read the embassy statement. The mission said the employee in question must have exploited his knowledge of the mission’s channels to commit the crime.

Newsline: 38 Indian embassy officials in Pakistan reach border to return home

After India asked Pakistan to reduce its diplomatic staff in India by half following the detention of two Pakistani spies this month, Pakistan sent back over three dozen Indian officials to India in a clear tit-for-tat response. As many as 38 Indian High Commission officials, including six diplomats, reached the Wagah border to return home. The officials reached the border in two buses and a truck. Among them were a first secretary, two second secretaries and three attaches. (https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/38-indian-embassy-officials-in-pakistan-reach-attari-wagah-border-to-return-home/614170) Meanwhile, around 143 officials of Pakistan High Commission in India also reached the Attari-Wagah border to return to their own country. While speaking to media, Protocol Officer Arun Pal Singh said, “As per our information, 143 people have reached Wagah Border to go to Pakistan. They are Pakistani citizens, who used to work at the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi.”

Newsline: India, Pakistan to expel embassy staff in tit-for-tat spy row

India said it would expel half the staff in Pakistan’s embassy in New Delhi over alleged spying by officials there, prompting Islamabad to say it would respond in kind. Relations between the nuclear-armed rivals are strained and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, often on charges of espionage, are common. Neither country has a permanent ambassador in place and in the last month each country has accused the other of illegally detaining and torturing its diplomats. “They (Pakistan) have been engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terrorist organisations,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-pakistan/india-pakistan-to-expel-embassy-staff-in-tit-for-tat-spy-row-idUSKBN23U1XR) In response, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said its staff had acted lawfully, and that it would expel half of India’s embassy in Islamabad “as a reciprocal measure”. India earlier said it intended to voluntarily cut staff at its embassy in Islamabad by the same amount. Both countries said the affected officials had been asked to leave within a week.

Newsline: Chinese Apps Censors Post By Indian Embassy

Amid increased differences between India and China, Chinese social media app WeChat removed updates by the Embassy of India (EoI) on the current border conflict including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on the clash that left 20 Indian Army soldiers dead. (https://inc42.com/buzz/chinese-apps-censors-post-by-indian-embassy-raises-red-flags/) The company has reportedly reasoned this removal for divulging state secrets and endangering national security. The reports further said that the updates published on WeChat include Modi’s remarks on the India-China border situation, the phone call between the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers held on Thursday and a statement by the external affairs ministry’s (MEA) spokesperson. Later, the Indian Embassy issued a clarification on its Weibo account after the same statement by the MEA spokesperson was deleted. The reports added that Embassy’s posts were deleted multiple times under several allegations. The list of regulations being violated includes “endangering national security, divulging state secrets, subverting state power, or undermining national unity, inciting hatred, disseminating false information, inciting illegal assembly, demonstration or gathering of people to disturb public order”. The censorship on Chinese apps has been widely known and has been seen repeatedly on popular platforms like TikTok, which have time and again removed the posts which are critical of the Chinese government.

Newsline: Pakistan summons Indian diplomat to condemn truce violations

Pakistan on Sunday summoned Indian top diplomat and registered a strong protest over ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC), leaving one civilian martyred and two others critically injured. According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Indian Charge d’Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia was summoned by Director General (South Asia and Saarc) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri to protest the “indiscriminate and unprovoked” firing by the Indian forces in in Hajipir and Bedori sectors of the LoC. (https://tribune.com.pk/story/2247490/1-pakistan-summons-indian-diplomat-condemn-truce-violations/) The Indian forces along the LoC and the Working Boundary (WB) have been continuously targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons, the FO said, adding that India has committed 1,440 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 13 shahadats and serious injuries to 104 innocent civilians.

Newsline: Pakistan releases Indian diplomats but claims they had fake currency

In a day-long drama, two Indian High Commission staffers who had gone missing while on official duties on Monday morning in the Pakistani Capital Islamabad in what is believed to be retaliatory action by the Pakistani establishment were released late in the evening and handed back to the Indian High Commission after claims by the Pakistani police that they were involved in a road accident or hit-and-run case. The Pakistani Police claimed that they caused injuries to a person and were also in possession of fake currency to the tune of Rs 10,000. The fake currency charge against them is being seen as the “serious” one that will make it untenable for them to stay in that country further. There were also some reports that the two staffers may have sustained some injuries while being in the custody. Hours before their release, India in the evening had summoned Pakistani Charge d’Affaires Syed Haidar Shah and issued a demarche, demanding their immediate return along with the car of the Indian High Commission, with Government sources saying the demarche “made clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials” and that “the responsibility for the safety and security of the concerned diplomatic personnel lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities”. (https://www.deccanchronicle.com/world/neighbours/160620/pakistan-releases-two-missing-indian-staffers.html) The Pakistani action is being seen as retaliation by Islamabad after two Pakistan High Commission officials were asked to leave India late last month after being caught carrying out espionage activities. According to some reports, the two Indian High Commission staffers belonged to the paramilitary Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and were on deputation.

Newsline: MEA summons Pakistan diplomat after two Indian embassy officials go missing

India on Monday summoned the Pakistan charge d’affaires and lodged a strong protest to him over the reported arrest of two officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. Pakistani media reported that two Indian staffers, who went missing on Monday morning, were arrested by Pakistani authorities for their alleged involvement in a “hit and run accident”. Official sources said the Pakistan charge d’affaires (CDA) was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and a demarche was issued to him over the reported arrest of the two officials. (https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/mea-summons-pakistan-diplomat-after-two-indian-embassy-officials-go-missing-120061501019_1.html) The sources said the Pakistan side was asked to return the two officials along with the official car to the High Commission immediately. In the morning, the two staffers in Islamabad went missing following which India took up the matter with the Pakistan Foreign Office. The two staffers went out of the High Commission in a vehicle for official duty at around 8:30 Am (IST), but did not reach their destination, the sources said. The incident comes two weeks after India expelled two Pakistan High Commission officials here on charges of espionage.

Newsline: US envoy to India apologises over desecration of Mahatma Gandhi statue in Washington

The US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster, has apologised for desecration of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the United States. The statue was vandalised with graffiti and spray paint outside the Indian embassy in Washington. “So sorry to see the desecration of the Gandhi statue in Wash, DC. Please accept our sincere apologies. Appalled as well by the horrific death of George Floyd & the awful violence & vandalism. We stand against prejudice & discrimination of any type. We will recover & be better,” Juster said on Twitter. (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/so-sorry-us-envoy-to-india-apologises-over-desecration-of-mahatma-gandhi-statue-in-washington/story-uCPRuDRFRdjPv6N0qs5P8O.html) The incident is reported to have taken place on the intervening night of June 2 and 3. The officials of the Indian embassy informed the State Department and registered a complaint with the local law enforcement agencies. On Wednesday, a team of officials from Metropolitan Police visited the site and started conducting inquiries.

Newsline: India accuses two Pakistan embassy officials of spying

Two Pakistani embassy staff accused of spying have been expelled from India, Indian officials said. Two officials of the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi were apprehended today by Indian law enforcement authorities for indulging in espionage activities,” a statement from the Indian external affairs ministry said. The statement added that the officials had been declared persona non grata “for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission.” They have been asked to leave the country within 24 hours. (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/01/asia/india-pakistan-diplomats-expelled-spying-intl-hnk/index.html) The ministry also issued Pakistan’s charge d’affaires with a demarche — a formal diplomatic message — lodging a strong protest against the two officials and asking to ensure that “no member of its diplomatic mission should indulge in activities inimical to India or behave in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status.” Pakistan’s foreign ministry in Islamabad swiftly condemned the diplomats’ expulsion and accused India of violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. “Two staff members of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were lifted by the Indian authorities today (31 May 2020) on false and unsubstantiated charges,” the statement said. “We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges.” The statement did not go into details about the torture it alleged took place. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the two men had since been released “on intervention by the High Commission.” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the decision to declare the two persona non grata was “accompanied by a negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda.” It said the Indian envoy was summoned and issued a demarche of its own, condemning the “baseless Indian allegations.”