The Pakistani High Commission has lodged a formal protest with the Ministry of External Affairs against Indian banks for refusing to cash salaried dollar cheques, The Hindu reported on Saturday. While employees of the High Commission are paid in dollars, Indian banks have imposed additional conditions on the withdrawal of salaries because of the rise in demand for dollars caused by the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
A senior Pakistani diplomat said the commission was “finding it difficult” to perform its duties because the bank is refusing to let them withdraw cash. “This is an unprecedented challenge as the bank is declining our legitimate requests to withdraw our own money,” the diplomat said. Islamabad will be forced to take similar steps against Indian diplomats posted in Pakistan unless measures are taken to help the High Commission’s employees, an official said.
The bank, which handles the accounts of the High Commission’s staff, has asked diplomats to present “letters of purpose” to withdraw dollar amounts. It has also given them the option of withdrawing their salaries in Indian currency or remitting their money back to Pakistan. However, the High Commission has told Indian authorities that it has found all three options to be unacceptable.
The Ministry of External Affairs said it would “look into” Pakistan’s complaint, adding that it was in talks with the “relevant agencies” to solve the problem, The Economic Times reported. This comes at a time when relations between Islamabad and New Delhi have already deteriorated since the Uri attack and the surgical strikes on “terror launchpads” carried out along the Line of Control by the Indian Army. India has called on Pakistan to “stop cross-border terrorism” to facilitate negotiations between the two countries.