Amid simmering tensions between Indian and Pakistan over the recent unrest in Kashmir, India has asked its diplomats posted in Pakistan to send home their school-going children. However, their spouses are allowed to stay in Islamabad.
The decision was taken after a security review that revealed that Islamabad was no longer safe for them.
The mission was informed about the decision last June but the staff waited a year for the academic session to end.
As of June 2016, there are no children of Indian diplomatic staff studying in Pakistan. Earlier, about 60 children of Indian diplomats were studying in Islamabad schools.
India allows children of its mission staff to study only in International School of Islamabad—also known as the American School — and Roots International School.
“Having a big number of children under one roof is a problem. We could no longer expose our children as soft targets, because the security has deteriorated,” an official said.
Apart from security, the children of Indian diplomats cannot ordinarily travel outside Islamabad for school trips. Since visas are city-specific, diplomats have to get permission from the Pakistan Foreign Office before children can travel outside Islamabad.
Confirming the move, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “It is normal practice for all countries to review staffing and related policies for their diplomatic missions, including in view of prevailing circumstances at those stations.”
According to an official, the information regarding this was leaked by Pakistan to show that India-Pakistan relations are in tatters, and that it has to do with the situation in Kashmir.
“The decision has no connection with Burhan Wani, but its timing only smacks of an effort by Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir issue,” he said.
In 2014, a Taliban suicide squad stormed an Army school in Peshawar and killed some 150 people, 144 of them were children.
The tensions between the two countries were also heightened when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently made provocative statements on the Kashmir situation and praised Burhan Wani as a martyr. He also remarked that “Kashmir will one day become Pakistan”, a comment which evoked a sharp reaction from Sushma Swaraj, who said his dream of the state becoming a part of his country “will not be realised even at the end of eternity”.