India to expel Pakistan embassy staffer for alleged ‘espionage’
NEW DELHI, INDIA: India would expel a Pakistani visa official for alleged ‘espionage activities’, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, with tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours already running high.
A Pakistani diplomatic source said the visa official, named as Mehmood Akhtar, had been given 48 hours to leave the country.
India’s foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit to inform him of the decision to expel the consular official who was briefly detained on Wednesday.
“FS (foreign secretary) summons Pak High Commissioner to convey that Pak High Commission staffer has been declared persona non grata for espionage activities,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Twitter.
FS summons Pak High Commissioner to convey that Pak High Commission staffer has been declared persona non grata for espionage activities
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) October 27, 2016
Delhi police crime commissioner Ravindra Yadav said the official had been detained on Wednesday with reported ‘defence and other documents’ in his possession.
The documents included information on the deployment of India’s border security forces, Yadav told a press conference.
‘Detention breached diplomatic rules’
Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit lodged a ‘strong protest’ with the Indian foreign ministry and said the detention contravened diplomatic conventions, the source said.
“Pakistan never engages in activity that is incompatible with its diplomatic status,” he said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have soared since a raid last month on an Indian army base near the de facto border dividing Kashmir killed 19 soldiers.
India pointed the finger of blame at militants in Pakistan and said it claimed responded by carrying out strikes across the heavily-militarised Line of Control, although Islamabad denies these took place.
Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan and India since their independence from Britain in 1947. Both claim the territory in full and have fought two wars over the mountainous region.
Thousands of Kashmiris have been killed and injured in the disputed valley only because they want either freedom from Indian rule or a merger with Pakistan as per resolutions of the United Nations (UN).