Pakistan ‘breaks rule’; makes public names of 8 Indian diplomats, calls them spies

In an unprecedented move, names, designations of Indian mission officials and their photographs were leaked to the Pakistani media Wednesday and the Pakistan Foreign Ministry held a press conference Thursday to officially announce their identities.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: November 4, 2016 4:44 am
Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria (Source: File/AP Photo) Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria (Source: File/AP Photo)

As India prepares to evacuate eight of its diplomats and staffers from Pakistan after the government there put out their names and alleged they were Indian spies, New Delhi and Islamabad are looking at one of the most serious curtailing of their missions in recent times.

In an unprecedented move, names, designations of Indian mission officials and their photographs were leaked to the Pakistani media Wednesday and the Pakistan Foreign Ministry held a press conference Thursday to officially announce their identities.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told the press in Islamabad: “As you are aware, a number of Indian diplomats and staff belonging to Indian intelligence agencies RAW and IB have been found involved in coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments.”

“The names and designations of the suspected operatives provided by the FO are as follows: suspected Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) operatives: Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri (commercial counsellor and R&AW station chief), Anurag Singh (first commercial secretary), Amerdeep Singh Bhatti (visa attache), Dharmendra Sodhi, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar (staff members). Suspected IB operatives are Balbir Singh (first secretary press and information & Intelligence Bureau (IB) station chief; Jayabalan Senthil (assistant personnel welfare officer),” Zakaria said.

Zakaria alleged that these Indian officials handled Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factions, fuelled sectarianism in Pakistan and created unrest in Balochistan, Sindh, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

New Delhi completely rejected the “baseless and unsubstantiated” allegations made by Pakistan against its officials in the Islamabad mission. “The government categorically denies those allegations,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

A top Indian official told The Indian Express: “Between India and Pakistan, everybody knows who’s who… there are no secrets really on the identities of intelligence agency officials serving at the missions. But to name them publicly through official channels has been a complete no-no, all these years. That rule has been broken.”

While there is no official word on further curtailment of the diplomatic missions in each other’s country, officials from both sides hope that the matter does not slide further.

According to an agreement between the two countries, India and Pakistan can have upto 110 diplomats and staffers in each other’s missions.

In recent years, the only time when the missions were curtailed significantly was after the December 2001 Parliament attack. “In 2002, after the Parliament attack, the numbers went down from 110 to 50… and then again, they were brought down to 20, and then one or two more were sent back. Finally, there were about 18 or 19 diplomats and staffers present in each other’s mission — that was the most significant curtailment in recent years. But even then, mass naming of intelligence sleuths in the mission was not the norm,” a government source said.

There have been instances of expulsions in 2003 and 2006. But the current round of declaring diplomats as persona non grata has begun once again. The current round of recalling officials started with Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar’s video being made public in Delhi, in which he named four Pakistan diplomats and staffers as belonging to the ISI.

On Thursday, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “It is especially regrettable that Pakistani authorities have chosen to level these allegations after deciding to recall, on their own, six officials of the Pakistan High Commission, some of whom may have been named to Indian authorities by Mehmood Akhtar — the PHC 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.”

“We also regret the fact that Pakistan’s step adds to the risks to peace and security in the region emanating from Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism against its neighbours, its complete denial of the problem and deflection of its responsibility by resorting to fanciful accusations,” he said.

“We also note that the Indian officials falsely implicated were working in the fields of promoting people-to-people and trade and economic contacts between the two countries. Pakistan’s false allegations against them have the potential to adversely affect the corresponding activities of the High Commission… The government also protests strongly the manner in which names and photos of the eight Indian officials — four of them holders of diplomatic passport — have been published. This is against basic norms of diplomatic practice and courtesy,” Swarup said.

Stressing that the allegations against the Indian officials are prejudicial to their safety and security, he said that Delhi now expects Pakistan to take all necessary steps to ensure the security and safety of not only these eight diplomats and officials but all other members of the High Commission and their families while they are in Pakistan.

“As to the question of their return to India, this is a procedural matter. Government will take all necessary further steps keeping all aspects of the situation in view,” he said.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

First Published on: November 4, 2016 4:43 am
  1. K
    Kanu Patel
    Nov 3, 2016 at 8:29 pm
    The most ugliest and the most lie speaking nation on the planet earth ( i.e. stan which is synonyms of Kabrastan ) will be disintegrated not by India but by its own sins and with the burden of lies it carries on it's head. It is now trapped in an irreversiblelt;br/gt;process of disintegration.
    Reply
    1. M
      MyTake
      Nov 3, 2016 at 6:44 pm
      It will be increasingly difficult for everyone and not just for India to deal with stan, since the very foundation of their outlook based on what they went through schools in their schooldays. All they learned about is: hating others, no worth while teaching in issues related to humanity and that is bound to have an after affect in one or other forms when they take on so called responsible positions!
      Reply
      1. K
        Kanhaiya
        Nov 3, 2016 at 8:41 pm
        There are no rules in the spy game.
        Reply
        1. R
          Romik
          Nov 3, 2016 at 9:52 pm
          The time has come to do the necessary Mr. Doval and Mr Modi et al. Work with the world leaders they will all support India. I am looking forward to vaction in free Balochistan and Sindhudesh !
          Reply
          1. W
            What?
            Nov 4, 2016 at 6:12 am
            The paks can only copy . .and that too very poorly . . . . pak citizens are viewd as pieces of flesh working as economic engines for the dictator defense ministry and ch!nas puppet pak govt.
            Reply
            1. W
              What?
              Nov 4, 2016 at 5:58 am
              These guys are anti-knowledge, anti-wisdom, anti-civilization . .. they want to trap people into terrorism and build a provocation army by using something as sacred as a religion. And then they want to blame and humiliate the followers of actual ilsam. They want to use brotherhood for all un-brotherly, un-sisterly, un-motherly, un-fatherly and uncivilized way . . just for a piece of land which they want to rent out to ch! na.
              Reply
              1. R
                Raj
                Nov 4, 2016 at 8:57 am
                Just close their emby, what do you need stanis in India for? No trade, they want Indian territories, they act like they are emissaries of human rights in the world, what's the point? Anything happens, they will start blaming Indians anyways - so, close the borders and do away with them. Modi tried - and looked weak. It's about time to close the doors and throw the keys away.
                Reply
                1. R
                  Raj
                  Nov 4, 2016 at 8:58 am
                  Oh yes, expect a civilian attack like Mumbai very soon - typical tactic. Just expect one... something tells me there's more to this.
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    avi
                    Nov 3, 2016 at 8:47 pm
                    Porkistan is a cesspool no law is respected or adhered to there !
                    Reply
                    1. R
                      RAJ
                      Nov 3, 2016 at 8:12 pm
                      India have no mental ability to act against pak . Midi ji previously said for strong action against pak. Bt he also fails . Himmt hey to mitado .na pak rahega na terrorst
                      Reply
                      1. D
                        DD
                        Nov 3, 2016 at 7:40 pm
                        stan will be divided into 4 pieces.lt;br/gt;insha allah.lt;br/gt;.... lt;br/gt;allah ki yahi marzi hai hai..lt;br/gt;Ameen..lt;br/gt;''''''''
                        Reply
                        1. C
                          Cyber m@n
                          Nov 3, 2016 at 7:05 pm
                          The countries who do "surgical strikes" are not defeated diplomatically, on an intl platforms such as UN and even on LOC. CUDNT EVEN CORNER JAISH, one soldier is already in captivity. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;I mean why u guys are so helpless!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Why to do a such a "surgical gimmick" which u cudnt sustain with equivalent actions afterwards, besides boycotting actors. :D
                          Reply
                          1. D
                            deep
                            Nov 4, 2016 at 4:01 am
                            disgusting ..call of all tie with stan .. close emby .. and kick out all stani from the soil of India..
                            Reply
                            1. L
                              lafanga
                              Nov 3, 2016 at 5:02 pm
                              Just like Kulbushan Jhadev who spilled all the beans on entire Indian operations in stan and he did it while smiling on camera.
                              Reply
                              1. Y
                                Yogi
                                Nov 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm
                                Obviously you dont understand the meaning of first. Or as a typical stani you understand practically nothing!
                                Reply
                                1. Y
                                  Yogi
                                  Nov 3, 2016 at 5:08 pm
                                  You pump somebody full of drugs and then place him before a camera. It can fool stanis, who are fools anyway. Not the rest of the world!
                                  Reply
                                  1. G
                                    Gruham Bendakaluru
                                    Nov 4, 2016 at 11:33 am
                                    Didn't India publicly declare the names of those stani emby staffers who were spying in India? The why this hue and cry when stan did the same? How does it matter if the names are revealed, the staffers are well protected, and will be brought back safely to India. India should first send back Abdul Basit, who has steadily destro whatever little diplomatic relations were there between India and stan. He is a trouble monger and will only create more trouble in the already thinning out Indo-Pak relations. He is an ISI man and he will do only what the stani Army tells him to do.
                                    Reply
                                    1. A
                                      Aslam
                                      Nov 4, 2016 at 7:00 am
                                      Hope you have had same feedback on so many other comments on this forum but u only targeted a specific one.
                                      Reply
                                      1. A
                                        Aslam
                                        Nov 4, 2016 at 7:29 am
                                        Just keep an eye on ur media and watch for urself the excessive content that ur media publishes about stan. Obsessed abt it.
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          Aslam
                                          Nov 4, 2016 at 7:01 am
                                          Since when. I have heard this sin the 80s and 90s that it will disintegrate in 2000. Still waiting. A wet dream i suppose.
                                          Reply
                                          1. A
                                            Aslam
                                            Nov 4, 2016 at 6:57 am
                                            Well who broke the rule of releasing names first?
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments