Pak releases Indian non-diplomat staffers after demarche

New Islamabad, June 16:

Pakistani authorities on Monday detained two officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad in a case of alleged “hit and run” and released them after over 10 hours following India’s strong demarche and a blunt message to Islamabad that the duo must be freed immediately.

The Pakistani action is seen as a retaliation for the expulsion of two Pakistani High Commission officials by India on charges of espionage two weeks back.

Pakistani media reported that the two Indian staffers were arrested by Pakistani agencies for their alleged involvement in a “hit and run” case, but there was no official word on it from Islamabad.

The non-diplomat staffers were back in the high commission after they were released by Pakistani authorities, government sources said, adding they left the mission in a vehicle at around 8 AM (Pakistan time) but did not reach their destination.

In the morning, the two staffers in Islamabad went missing following which India took up the matter with the Pakistan Foreign Office, sources said.

Within hours of the development, India summoned the Pakistan charge d’affaires Syed Haider Shah to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi and served him a demarche, lodging its strong protest over the reported arrest of the two officials.

In the demarche, it was made clear to Shah that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials and the responsibility for their safety and security was squarely on the Pakistani authorities, sources said.

Pakistan was also asked to return the two officials along with the official car of the high commission immediately.

The two staffers are believed to be CISF personnel and working as drivers at the mission. According to Pakistani media, they were charged with rash driving, hitting a pedestrian and for carrying fake currency.

The two were arrested after a BMW car hit a pedestrian who was walking on the city’s Embassy Road at around 8 a.m., Geo News reported, quoting some eyewitnesses. Police later discovered that the two persons were from the Indian High Commission.

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