Pakistan has denied visa to Indian diplomat Jayant Khobragade, who was proposed as the next acting head of the Indian mission in Islamabad, on the ground that he is too senior for the post, people familiar with developments said on Sunday.
Khobragade’s name was proposed to the Pakistani side in June, days before New Delhi asked Islamabad to reduce the strength of its high commission by 50%. The move had triggered a reciprocal decision by the Pakistani side.
There was no official word from the Pakistani side on the decision to deny Khobragade a visa. The people cited above said on condition of anonymity that the Pakistani side felt the diplomat was too senior to function as the charge d’affaires.
One of the people said Khobragade’s current assignment — he has been serving on deputation with the Department of Atomic Energy since 2017 — could have been a factor in Pakistan’s decision.
Khobragade, who served as a counsellor in the Indian high commission in Islamabad some years ago, has also held assignments in Russia, Kazakhstan and Spain, and was ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic during 2013-17.
The Indian and Pakistani high commissions in the two national capitals have been headed by the deputy chiefs of mission since August 2019, when Pakistan asked India to withdraw then high commissioner Ajay Bisaria as part of a slew of retaliatory actions in response to India’s decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.
Pakistan also opted at that time not to go ahead with the posting of the diplomat who had been chosen as its next envoy to India.
There are virtually no diplomatic engagements between the two sides as of now and they have also not held any formal and structured talks since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that were carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Pakistan has repeatedly sought to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN, with the backing of its close ally China, and at other international bodies but these moves have not had much impact on the world community.