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Pak diplomats’ playground shrinks

New Delhi, Aug. 16: India is thinking of strictly enforcing a rule that prevents Pakistani diplomats from travelling to Delhi’s satellite towns of Gurgaon and Noida.

Sensing such a possibility, officials in Islamabad have said the restriction is absurd.

In an indication of a further setback to ties after the Mumbai blasts, Delhi has raised objections to the travel of Pakistani diplomats and their families to the adjacent townships.

According to rules laid down earlier, Pakistani diplomats based in Delhi are not allowed to move beyond city limits.

Over the years, however, the rule has not been followed strictly as Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Gurgaon in Haryana have become extended parts of the capital.

But when a Pakistani diplomat visited the foreign ministry last Friday, he was told that the members of the high commission should refrain from going to Noida and Gurgaon, which has some of the better known clubs around Delhi.

Sources said the diplomat sought an order in writing about the curtailment. The Indian official responded by saying that the high commission will be informed of the decision by Thursday.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said no new order had been issued. He said existing rules already state that permission has to be taken by the diplomats to move beyond city limits.

But Pakistani diplomats termed the restriction absurd, saying their country would be forced to reciprocate by limiting the movement of Indian diplomats within Islamabad.

Pakistan claimed that Indian diplomats based in Islamabad are allowed to travel to Rawalpindi, the popular hill station of Muree and Taxila.

The Indian side said Pakistani diplomats could travel to Agra and take the road route to Wagah near Amritsar, but only after taking permission.

The row comes days after India and Pakistan expelled a diplomat each on charges of spying. The composite dialogue was halted after the Mumbai train blasts.

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