Pakistan recalls 6 staffers suspected of espionageTop Stories

November 03, 2016 10:39
Pakistan recalls 6 staffers suspected of espionage

Pakistan has withdrawn six of its officials and staffers from the embassy in India and they are back in Islamabad on Wednesday. “They, along with families, have reached Pakistan safely today,” a Pakistan diplomat said. These officials were reportedly involved in espionage along with the previously arrested Pakistan embassy staff.

In a retaliation Pakistan has named 8 Indian embassy staffers and declared them persona non grata. Pakistan claimed that eight Indian High Commission officials and staffers were part of an espionage ring operating out of the Indian High Commission.

The Indian establishment was expecting Pakistan to hit back in the coming days by claiming that three to four Indian diplomats posted in that country are intelligence officials. “The gloves are off,” a source had told as names of four Pakistan diplomats were put out in the public domain as spies.

Pakistan has named the officials as Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri (commercial counsellor), Balbir Singh (First Secretary, Press & Information), Amarjeet Singh Bhatti (visa attaché) and two more staffers, Vijay Kumar and Mundhawan Nanda Kumar.

An Indian official said, “It was expected that Pakistan will also name Indian officials, now Delhi has to decide whether and when and how to withdraw the persons, because it becomes difficult for them to interact with their contacts in the wake of revelations in the media. It does not matter whether the disclosures are correct or not, the damage is done.” The decision to withdraw these diplomats will be taken in the next few days, sources said.

Officials from both sides had expressed hope that the “chapter should end” for now. “We just hope that the reciprocal actions stop here or else, our diplomatic presence will be impacted severely,” an Indian official said.

A Pakistan diplomat said, “The Pakistan High Commission is being targeted both by the government and the ruling party, in violation of the Vienna Convention of diplomatic relations. Does India want to break off diplomatic relations? Why did they start this?”

By Premji

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