New Delhi: Asserting that it acted in interest of national security in expelling a Pakistan High Commission official in October, Government on Thursday said it has no intention to add to the strain in ties with Pakistan caused by Islamabad’s continued policy of cross-border terrorism.
Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said tension in the relationship between the two countries has been caused by Pakistan’s continued policy of directing cross border terrorism against India and supporting other anti-India activities. India had expelled Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar on charges of spying, triggering a tit for tat action by Islamabad, which also expelled an Indian High Commission official posted there.
“In declaring Mehmood Akhtar persona non grata and asking for his return to Pakistan, the government acted in the interest of national security.”It is not government’s intention to add to the strain in the relationship with Pakistan, which is caused by the latter’s continued policy of directing cross border terrorism against India and supporting other anti-India activities,” Singh said. Days after Mehmood’s expulsion, Islamabad had recalled six staff members from its High Commission here.
Subsequently, India had withdrawn eight of its officials posted in Indian Embassy in Islamabad after Pakistan Foreign Ministry on November 3 alleged that they were found involved in subversive activities there.
India had rejected the charges as totally baseless and unsubstantiated, saying they represented an afterthought and a crude attempt to tarnish image. Replying to a separate question, Singh said a total of 787 Indian fishermen were apprehended by Sri Lanka in the year 2014, 454 in 2015 and 254 were caught this year.
He said a total of 1,045 Indian fishermen were released by Sri Lanka in 2014 which included 273 caught in the previous year. Singh said 375 Indin fishermen were released in 2015 and 333 this year which included some caught in previous year. Asked about functioning of MADAD consular service portal, he said a total of 15,849 grievances were registered since its inception in February 2015 out of which 9,811 were resolved while 6,038 are at various stages of resolution.
To another question, he said the government had drawn up a list of 68 countries, which have not been covered at the ministerial or higher level since the current dispensation assumed office.
He said visits have so far taken place to 29 out of these 68 countries.