Swiss diplomats to remain in India and Pakistan

Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan in recent weeks Keystone

Swiss diplomats stationed in India and Pakistan will remain in the region for the time being.

This content was published on June 3, 2002 - 14:02

The Swiss foreign ministry said on Monday it had no plans to recall its embassy staff from the region, despite escalating tensions between the two countries over the disputed Kashmir region.

"It's very difficult to know what's happening on the ground, but we are following international efforts to help the two countries find a solution," said the Swiss ambassador to Islamabad, Christian Dunant.

Asked how ordinary Pakistanis were responding to the escalating political tension with India, Dunant said he did "not sense that people were especially worried by the situation".

"Of course everybody is worried, but not in an extensive sense. The risk of war between the two countries is one thing, but the other is the risk of terrorist attacks inside the country in cities such as Islamabad and Karachi," Dunant told swissinfo.

"And that is what is worrying people when they go shopping at markets in the cities," he added.

No Swiss mediation

Dunant also confirmed that Switzerland was not involved in efforts to broker dialogue between India and Pakistan.

"As a rather small country, Switzerland is not taking a direct part in discussions, but the United States is sending high-level officials to New Delhi and Islamabad to discuss the situation," Dunant explained.

"For the time being, we don't feel signs of nervousness among the Swiss community and there is no sense of panic here at the embassy," the ambassador added. "But it is not the time for tourism in India or Pakistan. The risks exist and something could happen."

The Swiss foreign ministry said there are 180 Swiss citizens registered with the embassy in Pakistan, and 640 in India.

The embassy in Islamabad has no plans to evacuate the Swiss community in Pakistan, but the foreign ministry has issued a warning to Swiss citizens not to travel to India or Pakistan.

by Anna Nelson and Ramsey Zarifeh

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