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India, Pakistan Trade Accusations

January 20, 2003

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ India accused Pakistan on Monday of harassing its top diplomat in Islamabad, a charge Pakistan said was meant to deflect attention from the mistreatment of one of its own diplomats.

The two bitter nuclear rivals routinely expel one another’s diplomats on charges of spying. They withdrew their ambassadors after a December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament that New Delhi blamed on Pakistani-backed Islamic militants.

India claimed its diplomat, Deputy Ambassador Sudhir Vyas, was prevented from leaving his house Saturday. It said that his car was later boxed in by four vehicles belonging to Pakistani intelligence agencies.

``Such harassment is unprecedented and amounts to a clear attempt on the part of Pakistan’s intelligence services to thwart the diplomat in the performance of his duties,″ External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

India’s protest was handed to Jalil Abbas Jillani, Pakistan’s deputy ambassador in India, Sarna said.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan told reporters that India made up the story to draw attention away from New Delhi’s harassment of Jillani earlier this month.

Khan said Pakistan lodged a complaint with India on Jan. 7 over mistreatment of Jillani. He did not give details.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they won independence from Britain in 1947, and nearly fought a fourth when tensions rose last year after the parliament attack.

Update hourly