Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi alleged on Wednesday that India is trying to divert attention from the ongoing border dispute with China by slashing the presence of Pakistan's High Commission staff by 50%, which is in violation of the Vienna Convention.
"India's mood is clear [for all to see] as it wants to divert attention from its border dispute with China to Pakistan", the foreign minister was quoted by the Pakistani news channel Geo TV. He added that India is finding excuses to launch a false flag operation against Pakistan.
On Tuesday night, Pakistan retaliated for the Indian move while summoning India's Chargé d’Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia in Islamabad and informing of Islamabad's decision to reduce the Indian High Commission’s staff strength by 50% as well. The last time the two countries took such measures was back in 2001.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry’s statement said "the baseless allegations made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs as a pretext to seek 50% reduction in the staff strength of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi".
On Tuesday, India summoned the chargé d’affaires of Pakistan to inform that it had decided to reduce by half the strength of the Pakistani diplomatic mission in New Delhi, citing alleged espionage acts by Pakistani diplomats and dealings.
Last week, two officials of the Indian High Commission went missing in Islamabad and were found to have been detained on charges of careless driving. Earlier, officials of Pakistan's High Commission in New Delhi were expelled on suspicion of espionage.
The diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Islamabad have deteriorated since August 2019, when India stripped Jammu and Kashmir, to which Pakistan also lays claim, of its special status.
Qureshi's comments come as India and China have been engaged in a border face-off at the Line of Control in the Ladakh region over the last two months. The stand-off escalated into a direct confrontation last week, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers. The number of casualties on the Chinese side is unknown, however, Beijing has brushed off media reports claiming that 40 Chinese troops were killed as a result of the violent clashes in Ladakh. On Tuesday, the Indian Army announced that the two sides had agreed to disengage from the friction points.