India, Pakistan expel a mission staffer each within hours

Three men from Rajasthan arrested while passing defence papers to Pak staffer Akhtar.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: November 1, 2016 2:12 pm
pakistan, pakistan spy, pakistan spy arrested, pak spy, pak spy arrested, pakistan espionage, pakistan espionage case, pakistan news, india news, rajasthan pakistan spy, rajasthan news Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit outside South Block on Thursday. (Express Photo: Renuka Puri)

The already strained ties between India and Pakistan dipped further Thursday when New Delhi and Islamabad expelled a staffer each at their High Commissions, declaring them ‘persona non-grata’ in tit-for-tat action after Delhi Police said it had uncovered a spy ring involving an employee of the Pakistani mission. Both staffers were given identical deadlines to leave — by October 29.

WATCH VIDEO: After Pakistan Staffer Espionage Case, Here’s What Islamabad Is Considering

In Delhi, police arrested two Indians — a third was arrested later — and accused a Pakistan High Commission staffer, Mehmood Akhtar, of receiving “sensitive” defence documents, including details of BSF deployment on the border, from them. While Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir were sent to police custody, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar called Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit and declared Akhtar a ‘persona non grata’ for spying.

Watch Video: Pakistan High Commission Staffer Detained: Find Out Why

Read| Pakistan High Commission staffer told to leave India after police bust spy ring

Hours later, in a retaliatory move, Pakistan declared Surjeet Singh, an Indian official at the High Commission in Islamabad, as ‘persona non grata’ but did not spell out any charge. The Pakistan Foreign Ministry said Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry expressed deep concern to Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale over the activities of the Indian official that were “in violation of the Vienna Convention and established diplomatic norms”. Pakistan diplomatic sources said Singh was being expelled for “spying”.

Read | Pakistan espionage case: Accused had fought and lost 2013 Rajasthan polls

WATCH VIDEO: Pakistan High Commission Staffer Caught With Defence Documents: What It Means For India & Pakistan

This is the third time in the last 13 years when officials from both sides have been declared ‘persona non grata’ in tit-for-tat responses. In February 2003, during the rule of the Vajpayee government, India and Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioners were expelled, along with four diplomats from each side, after the Pakistani diplomat was allegedly found to be funding separatists. In August 2006, Islamabad claimed an Indian official had received “sensitive” documents in Pakistan. New Delhi had responded in equal measure.

pakistan, pakistan spy, pakistan spy arrested, pak spy, pak spy arrested, pakistan espionage, pakistan espionage case, pakistan news, india news, rajasthan pakistan spy, rajasthan news Subhash Jangir, Ramzan Khan at police headquarters on Thursday. (Source: PTI)

Thursday saw India declaring Akhtar a “ring leader” of an espionage module. The staffer was said to have admitted to Delhi Police that he worked for Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI. At the Pakistan High Commission, he was working in the visa section and was an aide to Farrukh Habib, Counsellor (Trade).

Also Read | Pakistan espionage case: Accused met in public, used code words

Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “Today morning, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that India had intercepted an official of the Pakistan High Commission in pursuit of espionage and that he was being declared persona non-grata.”

pakistan, pakistan spy, pakistan spy arrested, pak spy, pak spy arrested, pakistan espionage, pakistan espionage case, pakistan news, india news, rajasthan pakistan spy, rajasthan news The fake Aadhaar card procured by Akhtar. (Source: PTI)

“The Pakistan High Commission has been informed that Mehmood Akhtar and his family must return to Pakistan by October 29. The Foreign Secretary also strongly conveyed to the Pakistan High Commissioner that the Pak High Commission must ensure that none of its members indulge in activities inimical to India, or behave in a manner that is incompatible with their diplomatic status,” Swarup said.

He rejected Pakistani allegations of manhandling Akhtar, saying he was treated with “utmost courtesy”. “When he was handed over to the Pakistan High Commission in the presence of a Ministry official, Akhtar himself said he was treated well,” he said.

Swarup said Akhtar told police that he had joined the Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army in 1997, came on deputation to the ISI in 2013 and, in September that year, was posted to the Pakistan High Commission.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

  1. E
    Edward Teller
    Oct 28, 2016 at 12:40 am
    The "get-up or appearance" so disgusting; Look at that worn out board ! Horrible to say the least. People walk through all this without worrying about, everyday ??
    Reply
    1. E
      Edward Teller
      Oct 28, 2016 at 12:40 am
      he \"get-up or appearance\" of such an important ministry is so disgusting; Look at that worn out board ! Horrible to say the least. People walk through all this without worrying about, everyday ??
      Reply
      1. R
        Ravinder Bhardwaj
        Oct 28, 2016 at 5:33 am
        India should recall its High Commissioner to stan immediately and close the High Commision there. Also expel Pak High commissioner together with its entire staff. There is no need of any diplomatic relations when no trust left.
        Reply
        1. A
          Anusree Kailash
          Oct 27, 2016 at 11:52 pm
          How lame... What is with them... is stan collectively just 5 years old? "You expelled our staff... here I will expel yours!"
          Reply
          1. A
            ankit sharma
            Oct 28, 2016 at 9:04 am
            @ Kim sharma
            Reply
            1. A
              ankit sharma
              Oct 28, 2016 at 9:04 am
              nd hw gud was kashmir, when Hindus were being murdered daily particularly Brahmins and forced to leave the valley. when u r being bullied, when u r made to hurt, wen u r being hit again and again and you dont respond you are not being peaceful, u r being a disgrace on ur existence. As any living person, animal-human-plant or any other species, it is your responsibility,your duty and your right to defend, to counterattack. IF IT MAKES SOME NOISE, LET IT BE. THIS IS WHAT WE ARE DOING and THIS IS WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE DONE PREVIOUSLY. zulm karne wale se jyada zulm sehne wala bura hota hai.
              Reply
              1. A
                ankit sharma
                Oct 28, 2016 at 8:48 am
                u r crazy..
                Reply
                1. A
                  avi
                  Oct 28, 2016 at 5:27 am
                  Best would be send this Ganja Porki envoy back and reduce the staff levels in both countries and let them hibernate.
                  Reply
                  1. Load More Comments