NEW DELHI: Volatility refuses to die down in India-Pakistan relations as on Thursday Islamabad alleged 8 Indian Embassy’s officials were involved in “terrorist and subversive” activities, an accusation Ministry of External Affairs flatly refuted.
The diplomatic slugfest between the two nuclear-armed countries, even as intermittent exchange of fire has been going on along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB), has ensured that the staff in the embassies of both the countries has been cut down.
“This kind of downward spiral does not do good to either side. We hope Pak will desist from making unsubstantiated allegations and jeopardizing the safety of our officials there,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in response to a question if this would hamper diplomacy between two countries. India has chosen to bring eight of its staffers after their names and photographs have been splashed in Pakistan newspaper on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially revealed the identity of these officials in a press conference alleging they belonged to India’s intelligence agencies – Intelligence Bureau and Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). Pakistan made specific allegations that these officials were involved in "espionage, subversion and supporting terrorist activities in Balochistan and Sindh, especially Karachi, sabotaging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and fuelling instability in the two provinces". Dubbing Islamabad’s action as an “after thought” and “crude attempt”, India protested the manner in which names and photos of its officials, four of them on diplomatic passports, were published jeopardizing their security.
"We completely reject the baseless and unsubstantiated allegations made by Pakistan against certain officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad….It is especially regrettable that Pakistani authorities have chosen to level these allegations after deciding to recall, on their own, six officials of the Pakistan High Commission, some of whom may have been named to Indian authorities by Mehmood Akhtar - Pakistan High Commission official caught red-handed," Swarup said. The eight Indian officials are homebound, and decision to recall them will be taken with safety considerations in mind.
This diplomatic confrontation has worsened the relations of the two countries further. The expose claimed by both the countries seems to be unprecedented in terms of the numbers of diplomatic officials being withdrawn. In 2010 India had arrested one person working in its embassy in Pakistan for working for the Pakistan Intelligence agency ISI.