Concerned over the security of children of staff members of the Indian High Commission (IHC) in Pakistan, the government of India has declared Pakistan as a “no school going mission”. According to the recent decision, over 60 schoolchildren of the Indian officials in Pakistan would not go to school from the next quarter. The IHC staff will now also not be allowed to keep their children with them. However, they can keep their spouses with them.
The downgrading may further strain the diplomatic relationship between both countries. The government of India has also asked the IHC staff in Pakistan to either return or send their school going children back. “India’s approach (of declaring Pakistan no school going mission) is in consonance with the policy adopted by several nations,” ANI quoted Indian government sources as saying. “Pakistan no school going policy being followed by a number of missions including Germany, France, Australia, UN Orgs,UK (under 12),US,Canada and EU,” it added. The decision was taken following the December 2014 attack on Indian embassy in Peshawar. ANI reported that the decision was also taken as there were restrictions on the free movement of Indian schoolchildren in Pakistan. Reportedly, India refused to review the decision when the foreign office and school authorities requested.
The relations between Indian and Pakistan has reached a new low in the aftermath of Kashmir violence following the encounter of Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani by security forces in the valley. Several Pakistani leaders including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have condemned Wani’s encounter and once again raised their pet rhetoric of Kashmir’s freedom.
PTI quoted External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup as saying, “It is a normal practice for all countries to review staffing and related policies for their diplomatic missions, including in view of prevailing circumstances at those stations.” “With effect from this academic session, officials posted in the High Commission of India in Islamabad have been advised to make arrangements for education of their wards outside Pakistan, till further notice.”
(With agency inputs)