The Pakistan espionage ring has resulted in further damaging the already low political relations between the India and Pakistan with a tug of war emerging between the High Commission's of the South Asian neighbours.
In a tit-for-tat action, Pakistan on Thursday declared an Indian High Commission official as persona non-grata and asked him to leave the country within 48 hours.
The Pakistan Foreign Office had said in a statement that the decision was conveyed to Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale who was summoned to foreign ministry. The Foreign Secretary has expressed deep concern over the activities of the Indian official that were in violation of the Vienna Convention and the established diplomatic norms, it said.
Earlier on Thursday, India declared a Pakistan High Commission staffer in New Delhi as persona non-grata for espionage activities after he was caught by Delhi Police with sensitive defence documents including deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border.
Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit "to convey that Pakistan High Commission staffer has been declared persona non grata for espionage activities".
The last two days have seen a series of Pakistani spy activities being detected and busted by the joint effort of the intelligence and security forces.
The Pakistan High Commission staffer, Mehmood Akhtar, was picked up along with his two accomplices from Delhi Zoo by the police for their involvement in the espionage ring. Their activities involved sharing of sensitive defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border with the Pakistani spy agency ISI.
Another Pakistani spy identified as Shoaib was arrested by Rajasthan Police on Thursday and brought to Delhi for further probe. Shoaib, the Jodhpur-based passport and visa agent allegedly involved in espionage racket, was detained near his home town Thursday evening, police said.
The spy ring was busted leading to the arrest of two Indians and a Pakistani who was found to be in possession of sensitive defence documents and a map that showed Indian Army movements on the border.
Here is a brief history on Indian and Pakistan High Commision officials who were expelled by their host countries:
On December 1, 1988, India expelled Brigadier Zaheer Abbasi, then Pakistani military attache. A police team, complete with a hidden video camera, had caught him in the decidedly downmarket Hotel Ranjit, Delhi, handing over Rs 25,000 for classified documents. Abbasi was declared persona not grata within 24 hours.
In February 2003, Jalil Abbas Jilani, then Chargé d'Affaires at the Pakistan HC, was summoned by the MEA and told to pack his bags because his activities were “not in keeping with his diplomatic status.” Four others in the Pakistan High Commission were expelled along with him.
But the Pakistani response, as usual, more than matched India’s as apart from expelling Indian Acting High Commissioner Sudhir Vyas, Islamabad expelled four officials in the Indian High Commission there, including a diplomat, First Secretary Rahul Rasgotra.