ISLAMABAD: India on Sunday expelled two officials of the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi accusing them of espionage — a charge, which was immediately rejected by Pakistan as “false and unsubstantiated”.
The officials were identified as Abid Hussain Abid, 42, an assistant in the Pakistani mission, and Mohammad Tahir Khan, 44, a clerk.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement said they were “apprehended today by Indian law enforcement authorities for indulging in espionage activities”.
The officials, according to Indian media, were allegedly obtaining documents about the Indian security establishment from a local person.
Indian government later declared both of them persona non grata and asked them to leave the country within 24 hours.
The move is likely to add to the already strained ties between the two countries.
The Foreign Office, in a statement, noted that the expulsions had come in the midst of “an already vitiated atmosphere”.
In a demarche given to Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires in Delhi, the MEA said the activities of the expelled Pakistani officials were against “India’s national security”.
The expulsions come a week after Indian Border Security Force caught a pigeon in Occupied Kashmir’s Kathua district as a suspected Pakistani spy.
The FO, while condemning the Indian action, said the Indian move was “accompanied by a negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda”.
It said the two staffers were lifted by the Indian authorities on Sunday on “false and unsubstantiated charges” and were later released on the high commission’s intervention.
“We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges,” the statement said.
The FO said the Indian action was in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct.
“The High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi has always worked within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms. The Indian action is clearly aimed at shrinking diplomatic space for the working of Pakistan High Commission,” it said.
The FO said that the Indian ploy to heighten tensions would fail in diverting attention from the ongoing internal and external issues faced by the BJP government or from the worsening situation and gross human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
It again called on the world to take note of the Indian designs and play its role in ensuring peace and security in South Asia.
Our correspondent in Delhi also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2020