Fifty-five school children have not returned to Islamabad for the new academic year. These are children of officials posted at the Indian High Commission in Pakistan. Following directives from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), these officials have made alternate plans to school their children back home in India or other countries.
Although the advisory was issued in June 2015 following a continuous review of the security situation in Pakistan, it was not stringently observed. According to MEA sources, this was because the parents were being given sufficient time to make alternative arrangements for their children.
However, given that the year actually starts post summer vacation, it is rather evident that the children were sent back home this year following an escalation of hostilities between India and Pakistan. Diplomatic ties are rather tense following the killing of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani by Indian security forces—an act that Pakistan condemned and even organised a 'Black Day' in protest.
This, however, does not mean that the mission has become entirely child-free. “There still are some children here with us, mostly those who are not of school-going age,'' said an official at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
The no children policy in Islamabad is being followed by several other missions, including Germany, France, Australia, UN Organisaitons, the UK (under 12), Canada, The US and the EU. “Our approach is in consonance with the policy adopted by several nations,'' MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
As the Indian mission does not run a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Islamabad or any other city in Pakistan, the children of the diplomats were studying in two of the international schools in the Pakistani capital. The decision has made things a little difficult for the families, but they say it's better to be safe than sorry. It's also part of the diplomatic life, as there are several other no-school going missions one could get posted. This include assignments in war torn areas like Libya.
The advirosy has not covered spouses of the officials yet. Swarup said Pakistan was made aware of the Indian decision back in 2015 when it was taken. The MEA added that children had been sent back home “till further orders'', which means this is not a permanent move.