India, Pak staffers’ brief detentions dampen renewed Indo-Pak peace process

April 2nd, 2011 - 2:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, April 2(ANI): The recent incident of brief detentions of each other’s High Commission employees by Pakistan and India threatens to hamper the renewed peace process between the two nations, just two days after both countries’ prime ministers provided fresh momentum to the re-engagement process through ‘cricket diplomacy’.

In a tit-for-tat move, Pakistani security agencies detained an Indian High Commission employee after Indian agencies picked up a Pakistani mission employee from the Chandigarh airport on March 30- the day the two premiers were watching the Indo-Pak World Cup semi-final clash at Mohali.

The detention drama highlighted the fragility of the peace process and the underlying currents that could veto any initiative to overcome the acrimonious past, the Dawn reports.

The detained Indian, who has been identified as Ashok Kumar Sharma, was posted at the consular section of the Indian High Commission. Sources alleged that Sharma was an undercover intelligence agent, who was in Pakistan since May 2009.

While the Indians released the detained Pakistani worker late Thursday night, Sharma, who was taken into custody while returning from work on Thursday evening, was set free on the intervention of Indian External Affairs Secretary Nirupuma Rao on Friday.

Rao called up her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on Friday afternoon to raise the issue of the missing Indian employee, and called for his safe recovery.

Sources said that soon after the call, Sharma was handed over to diplomats from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

There was no official word on the incident except for a late night release from the Foreign Office about the telephonic conversation between the foreign secretaries, but without any reference to what had prompted the discussion.

“The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India had a brief telephone conversation today during which it was agreed that it was important to build on the momentum and goodwill generated by the meeting of the prime ministers of Pakistan and India at Mohali on March 30,” the statement said.

The conversation, however, helped avert a diplomatic standoff that could have seriously damaged the positives generated by the renewal of peace talks and the meeting of the Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh in Mohali. (ANI)

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