ISLAMABAD: At least three Indian diplomats out of the eight which Islamabad had accused of espionage and terrorism in the country were deported to India early on Tuesday.
Anurag Singh, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar were sent back to India at 9 am on flight EK-316, as tension mounted between the nuclear-armed rivals following days of artillery duels and skirmishes on the border dividing the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry had said six Indian embassy staff worked for India’s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency, while two were operatives for the Intelligence Bureau agency.
The foreign ministry statement had also given an eight-point list of the diplomats’ espionage activities.
It accused them of fuelling instability in Sindh and Balochistan, as well as sabotaging its most vital economic project, the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), involving transport and energy infrastructure projects to link China with Pakistan’s coast on the Arabian Sea.
They were also accused of liaising with factions of the local Taliban and of working to damage Pakistan’s relations with western neighbour Afghanistan.
In October, Pakistan and India both had expelled one diplomat from each other’s embassies, accusing them of spying.
Skirmishes recently intensified between the two countries along the disputed frontier running through the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
In July, Indian-held Kashmir erupted in protests that led to a crackdown by Indian forces after they killed Burhan Wani, a popular separatist leader.
In September, gunmen killed 19 Indian soldiers at an army camp in an attack New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
Later that month, India claimed it carried out ‘surgical strikes’ on the Pakistani side of the border, but Islamabad called this a fabrication to distract attention from its continuing crackdown in Kashmir.