Pakistan has decided to stay away from the World Trade Organization meeting in New Delhi next week in protest against alleged harassment of its diplomats in India.
India last month invited Pakistan commerce minister Pervez Malik to participate in the informal WTO ministerial meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi on March 19-20 and Islamabad had initially accepted the invitation.
Sources in the foreign ministry said, “situation has changed after ‘repeated harassment of families of diplomats’ and it was decided to skip the invitation.”
According to a source “We cannot send our commerce minister to India in the current situation and India has been informed about it,”
He also said, “India should also stop the alleged violations of the ceasefire on the Line of Control that led to the death of civilians and also stop atrocities in Kashmir.”
Trade ministers of over 50 nations including the US, China and Pakistan were invited by India to discuss issues related to agriculture and services.
The decision to stay away from WTO meeting in India corresponding with the recalling of Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood.
After Pakistan, alleged repeated harassment of its diplomats in New Delhi Mahmood arrived on Friday evening for consultations.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is evaluating options to deal with the situation in the wake of calling back of its High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood from New Delhi due to alleged harassment of diplomats in India.
Mahmood arrived here a day after the Foreign Office spokesman said that he was being summoned for consultation “due to non-stop harassment of families of the diplomats”.
Official sources in the foreign ministry said Mahmood will brief top officials about the situation.
However, the official anonymously said that “until Indian agencies stop intimidating the staff and families of their diplomatic mission”
The official justified the move, insisting that under current circumstances it was not possible for the high commissioner to operate out of New Delhi.
He said, “Children have never been harassed even when two countries have had the worst of relationship,”
When asked whether Pakistan was considering to withdrawing the families of its diplomatic staff, the official said: “it might have to if the current slide in the relationship was not arrested.”