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India summons Pak envoy Abdul Basit over Karachi snub

Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned to the external affairs ministry on Wednesday and a strong protest lodged over the “discourtesy” shown to India’s high commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale.

MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup said: “Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned today (Wednesday) to the ministry of external affairs and conveyed the concern of the Government of India by secretary, west (Sujata Mehta) on the discourtesy to the Indian high commissioner.”

Mr Basit was told of India’s view on the discourtesy to Mr Bambawale by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, that had cancelled an event at the last minute scheduled earlier this week. Mr Bambawale was due to speak at the event, the invitation for which was received and accepted by him a couple of weeks ago. “He (Basit) was also conveyed our hope that our accredited diplomats in Pakistan will be allowed to discharge their normal functions without hindrance,” Mr Swarup said.

Mr Bambawale, who was on his first visit to Karachi after taking charge in January, was told about the cancellation just half an hour before the event. The organisers did not give any reason immediately for the cancellation.

Indian officials felt, however, that Mr Bambawale’s comments on Monday about Pakistan’s interference in Kashmir, which he noted was India’s internal matter, had “rattled the Pakistani authorities, prompting a cancellation”. At a separate interactive session organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations earlier this week, Mr Bambawale had taken a swipe at Pakistan over its interference in Kashmir, saying people living in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones at others.

“People living in glass houses should not be throwing stones at others. There are problems in both India and Pakistan, and you (Pakistan) should focus on resolving your problems before looking into the problems of other countries,” Mr Bambawale said on Tuesday in Karachi, emphasising that Kashmir was India’s internal matter.

Mr Basit had, incidentally, said last month that Pakistan’s Independence Day celebration was dedicated to “Kashmir getting freedom”.

He had said: “Is saal ki Jashn e Azadi hum Kashmir ki Azadi ke naam karte hain”, that literally translates to “this year’s Independence Day celebrations are dedicated to Kashmir’s (future) independence”.

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