India accuses Pakistan of resorting to ‘tit for tat’ move

pakistans-support-for-terror-led-to-its-diplomatic-isolation-indiaNew Delhi, (IANS) India on Thursday denied as “baseless and unsubstantiated” Pakistan’s allegations of spying against eight Indian officials at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and accused the neighbour of resorting to “tit for tat” after a Pakistani official was caught “red-handed” here for spying.

“We completely reject the baseless and unsubstantiated allegations made by Pakistan against certain officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The government categorically denies those allegations,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said at a briefing here.

He also said that India “protests strongly” against the manner in which names and photos of the eight Indian officials – four of them holders of diplomatic passport- have been published in the Pakistani media.

“This is against basic norms of diplomatic practice and courtesy.”

The spokesperson also said it was “regrettable” that Pakistani authorities chose to level these allegations after deciding to recall, “on their own”, six officials of the Pakistan High Commission.

He said some of them “may have been named” by Mehmood Akhtar – the Pakistan High Commission official caught “red handed last week while indulging in anti-India activities”.

“The allegations against the Indian officials represent an after-thought and a crude attempt to target these officials for no fault of theirs,” he said.

“We regard this as an unfortunate incident. Pakistan is resorting to tit for tat without any real case against these officials, and we hope that such incidents do not recur in the future”.

The spokesperson said the allegations were “false” and had the potential to affect the activities of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

“We expelled only one person from India for anti-India activities. After that Pakistan decided to withdraw on its own six of their staffers. And then they decided to put in the public domain details of eight of our diplomats and officials whose safety and security has been completely compromised,” he said.

Asked if the eight officials will be brought back, Swarup said the Indian government will take a decision soon “keeping their safety in mind”.

“A decision will be taken by government keeping their safety in mind. It is a procedural issue, and a decision will be taken soon,” he said.

The spokesperson added that the officials there were working on promoting peace between India and Pakistan.

“We expect the Pakistan government to take all steps to ensure the safety of these officials,” Swarup said.

Pakistan on Thursday named eight officials of the Indian High Commission who it alleged were involved in “subversive activities”, a day after six Pakistani officials of the high commission in New Delhi were called back.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria, in his weekly press briefing, said the eight officials belonged to Indian intelligence agencies RAW and IB and were “found involved in coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan”.

He named the alleged Indian intelligence personnel as Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, Commerical Counsellor “and RAW station chief”, Anurag Singh, First Commercial Secretary, Amardeep Singh Bhatti, Attache Visa, Dharmendra Sodhi, staff member, Vijay Kumar Verma, staff, Madhavan Nanda Kumar, staff, and “suspected IB operatives”, Balbir Singh, First Secretary – Press and Information and “IB station chief”, Jayabalan Senthil, Assistant Personnel Welfare Officer.

Zakariya claimed that Indian High Commission official Surjeet Singh who was declared persona non-grata a few days ago was also an IB operative working under Balbir Singh.

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