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Tribune Exclusive
Pakistan opposes freer roaming by diplomats
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 28
A move by India and Pakistan for easing restrictions on movement of diplomats in and around their respective capitals has fallen through, The Tribune has learnt.

The move has come a cropper despite oral understanding reached between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri during their talks when Mr Mukherjee visited Islamabad on January 13 and 14.

It is understood that after Mr Mukherjee’s Pakistan visit was over, the Indian side approached the Pakistanis for formalising the oral understanding.

However, Islamabad backtracked. No reasons were given by the Pakistanis.

Till about a month ago, the two countries’ diplomats posted in each other’s capitals had comparatively easier movement. Indian diplomats posted in Islamabad were free to travel to Rawalpindi and Muree.

Pakistani diplomats posted in New Delhi were at liberty to travel in the entire state of Delhi, a much larger city than Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Muree put together.

But about a month ago, the two countries slapped a ban on this movement. As is the wont in Indo-Pak relations, no reasons were assigned, either by New Delhi or Islamabad.

During the Mukherjee-Kasuri talks in Islamabad on January 14, the two foreign ministers agreed not only to lift the ban on movement of Indian diplomats to Rawalpindi and Muree and Pakistani diplomats in the state of Delhi, but also decided to expand the scope of movements of diplomats.

The two foreign ministers had agreed that the Indian diplomats in Islamabad would be able to travel to Taxila and Hasan Abdal (new name of Panja Sahib). In return, the Pakistani diplomats would be allowed to travel to Noida (Uttar Pradesh) and Gurgaon (Haryana).

The issue is likely to be taken up by India when Mr Kasuri comes here on February 20 for attending the Indo-Pakistan Joint Commissiion which starts the next day.

As of now, it is back to square one on the front of movement of diplomats. It is tough to understand that the two neighbours, which are engaged in improving people-to-people ties, are unable to break new grounds between their foreign offices.

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