Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Pakistan

Newsline: India says diplomats, embassy guests harassed by Pakistani security in Islamabad

India accused Pakistani security services of widespread harassment at an Indian embassy event in the capital Islamabad a day earlier, alleging that hundreds of guests were turned away and some of New Delhi’s diplomats were “threatened”. Guests arriving for a dinner at the luxury Serena Hotel in Islamabad faced “unprecedented harassment and intimidation” at the hands of Pakistani security agencies that even used a forklift truck to remove the cars of some attendees, according to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. India said about 300 guests were turned away from attending Saturday’s iftar dinner at the hotel, where many embassies host such functions during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims break their day-long fast at sunset with an iftar meal. The Indian High Commission, asking Pakistan to investigate, said some of its officials and diplomats were “jostled, pushed, abused, aggressively threatened with bodily harm” and in some cases had their phones snatched by Pakistani security officials. “The disappointing chain of events on June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilized behavior,” the Indian High Commission said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-india/india-says-diplomats-embassy-guests-harassed-by-pakistani-security-in-islamabad-idUSKCN1T30J4) Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But India’s allegations follow similar complaints by Pakistan about the way Indian security forces behaved outside Pakistan National Day celebrations at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi in March.

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Newsline: Top Pakistani official called ambassador “little pygmy”

A top Pakistani official just called the US ambassador to Afghanistan a “little pygmy” on Twitter. Her angry words, in this case, are more than just an insult: They have the potential to upend the Trump administration’s delicate, years-long efforts to reach a peace deal in Afghanistan that would it allow it to withdraw troops after nearly 20 years of war. Here’s what happened: John Bass, America’s top diplomat in Afghanistan, tweeted directly at Pakistan’s new prime minister and former cricket star, Imran Khan, over a controversial statement he made about Afghanistan’s government. “Some aspects of #cricket apply well in diplomacy, some do not,” he wrote, adding that it’s “important to resist temptation to ball-tamper with the #Afghanistan peace process and its internal affairs.” (https://www.vox.com/world/2019/3/27/18284293/pakistan-bass-imran-khan-mazari-afghanistan-diplomat) Khan has yet to respond to Bass’s tweet, but Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s human rights minister, had some choice words for the US envoy, called him a “little pygmy”. If you’re thinking “surely she will retract that” — no such luck. In response to criticism on Twitter, she sent out another zinger: “But seriously what diplomatic norms? US dips have been violating them all day today from Zalmay to this moron!”

Newsline: Afghan Ambassador to Return to Pakistan

Afghanistan will return its ambassador to Islamabad after Pakistan clarified Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks that Kabul had deemed to be political interference, the Afghan foreign ministry said on Mar. 28. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2019-03-28/afghan-ambassador-to-return-to-pakistan-after-pm-khans-remarks-clarified) Khan told Pakistani journalists on Mar. 25 that forming an interim Afghan government would smooth peace talks between U.S. and Taliban officials, according to published comments. The Afghan government recalled ambassador Atif Mashal from Islamabad the next day and demanded an explanation for remarks that it called “irresponsible.” The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass, also rebuked Pakistan. In a tweet on Wednesday addressed to Khan, Bass told the reknowned former cricketer not to “ball-tamper” with Afghan affairs. But after clarifications from Khan and Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Mashal will return to Islamabad, Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi said in a tweet. The Pakistani foreign ministry said on Mar. 26 Khan’s comments, reported by Pakistani media outlets and picked up in Afghanistan, had been taken out of context.

Newsline: Afghanistan Recalls Ambassador in Row Over Pakistan PM Remarks

Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador from Pakistan over reported remarks by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government, calling the comments “irresponsible.” Khan told Pakistani journalists on Mar. 25 that forming an interim Afghan government would smooth peace talks between U.S. and Taliban officials since the militant group refuses to speak to the current government, according to comments published in The Express Tribune. “The Afghan government was a hurdle in (the) peace process that was insisting that Taliban should talk to it,” Khan is quoted as saying. He also said he had canceled a scheduled meeting with Taliban leaders because of objections by the Afghan government. Afghanistan summoned Pakistan’s deputy ambassador to discuss the “irresponsible” remarks by Khan, said foreign affairs ministry spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi in a series of tweets on Mar. 26. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2019-03-26/afghanistan-recalls-ambassador-in-row-over-pakistan-pm-remarks) The Afghan government deemed Khan’s statements as “an obvious example of Pakistan’s interventional policy and disrespect to the national sovereignty and determination of the people of Afghanistan,” Ahmadi said. The row marks the third time in just over a month that Kabul has demanded an explanation from Pakistan over comments related to peace talks, illustrating the flaring tensions between the two neighbors at a sensitive time.

Newsline: Turkey to open Consulate in Lahore

Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul on Mar. 13 said that his country would open a consulate in Lahore to facilitate the business community. He said that a number of Turkish companies were already working in Pakistan and there was potential further increase trade volume between the two countries. (https://nation.com.pk/14-Mar-2019/turkey-to-open-consulate-in-lahore-envoy) Those holding visas of the European countries, the United Kingdom and the United States could easily get e-visa of Turkey, he added.

Newsline: India returns key diplomat to Pakistan as tensions ease

India said on Mar. 9 that it was returning a key diplomat to Pakistan’s capital amid an easing of tensions between the nuclear neighbors, but also demanded that its archrival take concrete steps against terrorists operating from its territory. India’s high commissioner to Pakistan was to return to Islamabad on Saturday, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said at a news briefing. Pakistan had announced earlier in the week that its high commissioner to India was returning to New Delhi. (https://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/India-asks-Pakistan-for-concrete-crackdown-on-13675466.php) The moves come after the two countries recalled their diplomats for consultations as tensions flared after a Feb. 14 suicide attack on a convoy of Indian paramilitary soldiers in the Indian-held portion Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers.

Newsline: US embassy looking into reports that Pakistan F-16s were used to shoot down Indian jet

The United States Embassy in Islamabad is looking into reports that Pakistan used U.S.-built F-16 jets to shoot down an Indian warplane, a spokesperson for the embassy said on Mar. 3. “We are aware of these reports and are seeking more information,” the spokesperson said, according to Reuters. “We take all allegations of misuse of defense articles very seriously.” (https://thehill.com/policy/defense/432376-us-embassy-looking-into-reports-that-pakistan-f-16-were-used-to-shoot-down) Using the F-16 jets to shoot down an Indian warplane would potentially be a violation of U.S. agreements, according to Reuters. The reports come after Pakistan and India exchanged multiple airstrikes. India on Feb. 26 ordered an airstrike over the disputed Kashmir region, targeting the Jaish-e-Mohammed group of fighters. That airstrike came in response to a car bombing in February that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir. On Feb. 27, Pakistan and India each said they had shot down each other’s warplanes and Pakistan captured an Indian pilot. Pakistan later returned the pilot to India, and tensions between the countries appeared to deescalate.