Harassment of diplomats

The current India-Pakistan cold war has now degenerated into harassment of each other’s diplomats. Both New Delhi and Islamabad complain that their diplomats have been harassed by different State agencies. Diplomats are supposed to enjoy diplomatic immunity and are allowed free movement in each other’s country according to the Code of Conduct of 1992. It is a normal diplomatic practice all over the world that when a person enjoying diplomatic immunity is found to be engaged in spying (in diplomatic parlance engaged in “activities not consistent with his status” he is expelled, without in any way harming him physically. But India and Pakistan complain that their diplomats are being tailed and subjected to unnecessary harassments.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee once said that one cannot choose one’s neighbours. India and Pakistan are and will continue to be neighbours howsoever bitter their mutual relations may be. They cannot wish away each other. Common sense tells us that in the circumstances the diplomats of the two countries should be allowed to discharge their normal duties. Harassing them will serve no purpose except a further straining of mutual relations. A war between two nuclear-power countries is out of the question. What is possible and is happening is the constant pin-pricks that Pakistan is giving India in Jammu and Kashmir, killing our security personnel and civilians. Meetings between the DGMOs are held regularly to reduce tension and stop border skirmishes but soon both countries are back to square one. India has accepted this as the new normal and limits its actions to occasional ‘surgical operations’ and nothing more.
But harassment of diplomats is a new phenomenon. Both countries should realize that harassing diplomats serves no purpose except more bitterness. India-Pakistan relations have never been normal and neighbourly since Independence and are not likely to be normal in the foreseeable future. In the circumstances, the least that the two countries can do is to let their diplomats function smoothly, without let or hindrance. India-Pakistan official talks have remained suspended since 2015. The tension has now started having its impact also on the SAARC. India is trying to corner Pakistan in the SAARC while Pakistan is trying hold a SAARC meeting in a country of its own choice. Be that as it may, targeting diplomats and straining diplomatic relations serves no purpose. Diplomacy is always quiet. Let it remain quiet and let the diplomats do their job quietly.

Sunday, 17 June, 2018