Pakistan has blocked access to Indian government websites since May 2017, which has affected the functioning of the Indian High Commission in the country as well as those seeking visas to India, The Times of India reported on Saturday. With access to websites that end with .gov.in available only intermittently in the country, people who want information or visas to India have been turning to agents who can help them fill up the forms using proxy servers through Virtual Private Networks.
This development comes at a time when both India and Pakistan have accused each other of harassing and intimidating diplomatic staff and their families. On Thursday, Pakistan summoned Sohail Mahmood, its high commissioner in India, to consult on the alleged incidents of harassment of Pakistani diplomatic staff in New Delhi. This was two days after the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi circulated a video showing a slow-moving car blocking vehicles of one of its diplomats in the city and blamed Indian security services for it.
On Friday, India sent its fifth note verbale – official diplomatic communication – to Pakistan since May 2017, requesting the country to allow people access to Indian government websites. The Times of India quoted Indian authorities as saying that Pakistan had censored the websites deliberately because of which the Indian High Commission has been receiving several complaints from Pakistani nationals seeking access to Indian visa forms.
“We have been constantly communicating with Pakistani authorities about access to these websites,” The Indian Express quoted an unidentified official as saying. “These [websites] may be useful for students or professionals who want information about India, but this block has been continuing for the last nine months.”