Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s government has “categorically rejected” Indian assertions that two Indian diplomats had been “forcibly abducted” in the Pakistani capital earlier this week, saying the men had been involved in a hit-and-run traffic accident and had been returned to Indian custody after legal formalities were completed.
In a statement released late on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the two men “were over-speeding and crashed their car into a pedestrian on [Monday]”.
“The pedestrian was seriously injured and taken to the hospital for treatment,” said the statement. “The officials attempted to flee from the scene; however, some passersby who witnessed the incident stopped them from fleeing and informed the police.”
The men, named by Pakistan as Dwimu Brahma and Selvadas Paul, were returned to the custody of a senior Indian High Commission official later the same day, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.
The incident is the latest in tensions between the two South Asian neighbours, who routinely accuse each other of harassing their diplomats.
Earlier this month, India expelled two Pakistani High Commission staff stationed in New Delhi for “espionage”.
Men were attacked, India says
India disputes Pakistan’s version of events, saying the men were attacked by unnamed “Pakistan security agencies”, a term often used to refer to the country’s intelligence services.
“The two Indian officials were subjected to interrogation, torture and physical assault resulting in grievous injuries to them,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a statement issued on Tuesday. “They were video-graphed and coerced to accept a litany of fictitious allegations and concocted charges.”
Pakistan’s charge d’affaires at its High Commission in New Delhi was summoned to register India’s “strong protest” against the incident.
Pakistan, however, termed the Indian statement “a reprehensible attempt to distort facts and deny the culpability of these officials in criminal offences”. Its Foreign Office said the men had been involved in “illegal actions and reckless conduct”, and that their behaviour violated the norms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Pakistan says the men were also carrying “fake currency” when they were apprehended.
Police in the Pakistani capital Islamabad did not respond to a request by Al Jazeera for comment on Wednesday. Earlier, police spokesman Zia Bajwa said the police would not be issuing statements on the incident, as that was the purview of the Foreign Office.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since gaining independence from the British in 1947. Relations have been particularly tense in recent years, with conflict centring on the disputed region of Kashmir, which both claim in full but administer separate portions of.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign minister said the country was “closely monitoring” escalating tensions between China – a Pakistan ally – and India along their disputed border in Kashmir region, after a clash between their forces saw at least 20 Indian soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA