Pakistan on Monday summoned a senior Indian diplomat to protest New Delhi’s decision to expel two officials of its High Commission for alleged spying.
The Pakisani officials in Delhi were declared “persona non grata” and ordered to leave the country within 24 hours, said India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Pakistan condemned India’s decision saying the action has been accompanied by a negative, pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) on Monday said that the Indian Charge d’Affaires was summoned for a “strong demarche”, conveying Pakistan’s condemnation of the decision.
Pakistan said the Indian action was in “clear violation” of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the diplomatic norms, the FO said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that the two staff members of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were lifted by the Indian authorities on May 31 on “false and unsubstantiated charges”, news agency PTI reported.
They were, however, released on the High Commission’s intervention, it said.
“The Indian action has been accompanied by a negative, pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda,” the FO said in a statement.
“We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges,” it said.
It said the Indian action is in “clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct especially in an already vitiated atmosphere”.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the two officials were apprehended by Indian law enforcement authorities for indulging in espionage activities.
“Pakistan’s Charge de Affairs was asked to ensure that no member of its diplomatic mission should indulge in activities inimical to India or behave in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status,” the MEA said.
According to IANS report, out of the two, Hussain (42), working as an assistant in the Department of Trade in Pakistan High Commission, was an operative of Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI and is from Punjab province of Pakistan.
While indulging in espionage activities, he told Indian defence personnel that he was from Amritsar.
His colleague, an upper division clerk in the high commission, Tahir (44), who is from Islamabad, would accompany him on the espionage missions to gather information for “news reporters”.
The Indian government has declared both the officials persona non grata “for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission and asked them to leave the country within twenty four hours”.
The two would pay Rs 25,000 for every exchange of information and expensive gifts such as Apple iPhones. They were paid via phone wallet application such as Paytm.
Both were in the commission for the last two years, sources said adding that the duo were driven around by Javed Akhtar (36), a resident of Mianwali in Pakistan’s Punjab, who has also been arrested.
The two officials had been on the radar of the Indian agencies for their suspicious activities including attempts to contact and lure service personnel for espionage, sources said.
Delhi Police’s Special Cell and the Intelligence Bureau assisted MI in the operations.
The law enforcement agencies, who apprehended the two officials, recovered some incriminating documents, Rs 15,000 and two iPhones from them. Of the two iPhones, they were to give one to their informants.