Spy Vs Spy: India And Pakistan Recall Staffers
NEW DELHI: As tensions between India and Pakistan continue to simmer, New Delhi moved to recall eight diplomats from its mission in Islamabad, following a similar move by Pakistan that had called back six of its staffers just hours earlier.
The recalls follow an espionage racket, as Pakistan revealed the identity of several Indian officials and accused them of being spies. Pakistan doing so, in turn, followed New Delhi having expelled a Pakistan high commission official, Mehmood Akhtar, after he was caught receiving documents from Indian collaborators. India named other officials as connected to the racket and expelled Akhtar having him declared persona non grata. Pakistan responded by expelling an Indian staffer from India’s High Commission in Islamabad.
Although India and Pakistan have previously expelled staffers, this is the first time names and identities of the persons have been revealed -- with the names of staffers expelled being widely reported in the countries’ respective media outlets. At the time of writing, Pakistani media had revealed the names of eight Indian officials that Islamabad accused of being spies. A media report in Pakistani paper Dawn news states: “The revealed Indian agents, according to the information leaked to the media, were, however, found to be involved in subversive activities, including attempts to disrupt the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and create fear and chaos in the country. They are also alleged to be building a network of informants within Pakistan and fabricating evidence for tarnishing the country’s image abroad.”
As India moved to withdraw these officials, Pakistan had earlier withdrawn the four officials reportedly named by Akhtar in connection to the spy ring charge, with Akhtar having later said that he was coerced into giving names.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs called upon Pakistani deputy High Commissioner to India Syed Haider Shah. In a statement, the MEA said, “He was conveyed the government's grave concern and strong protest at the recent escalation in the incidents of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan side at the line of control (LoC) and the international border (IB), which have resulted in several fatalities and casualties on the Indian side among civilians and security forces personnel."
The summoning, however, follows the similar tat for tat cycle that is defining relations between the two countries, as it followed a similar move where the Indian deputy high commissioner JP Singh was summoned by the Pakistan foreign office. Pakistani media reported that Singh was called upon to discuss the same issue -- cross border violations.
Additionally, tensions remain high across the Line of Control, with both sides accusing the other of violating the ceasefire. Casualties -- military and civilian -- have occurred on both sides. Cross border violations have increased significantly following India’s “surgical strikes” across the LoC. At least 45 instances of cross border violations have been recorded in the last month, killing four Border Security Forces and several civilians, while injuring dozens of others, with neither New Delhi nor Islamabad moving to diffuse tensions.