Pakistan’s move to reveal the identities of eight Indian diplomats engaged in the Indian high commission in Islamabad reek of reckless conduct. The move has severely affected the already severed India-Pakistan diplomatic ties and further reduced any chances of pacifying the wounds inflicted by India’s neighbour.
The identities of these officials were released in the public domain and in the media which dubbed them as spies and described them as agents of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). The Pakistani authorities alleged that the officials had been installed to carry out espionage activities and destabilizing operations but without giving any evidence to back any of the allegations. To ensure their safety, Indian has now chosen to withdraw these officials.
Recently, India had caught a member of the Pakistani embassy in Delhi red handed indulging in espionage activities. The individual was found to be in possession of Indian government documents relating to vital security installations and information that could seriously undermine India’s border security deployment.
India declared the spy Mehmood Akhtar as persona non grata (unwanted person) as part of the Vienna convention. According to the convention, the sending country, in this case Pakistan, would need to withdraw the official or India, which is the receiving country, could cease to recognise Akhtar as part of the Pakistani mission. Indian officials escorted Akhtar to Pakistani officials and asked them to remove him from India within a period of 48 hours. All of this was done in a civilised manner.
After these turn of events, Pakistan, which had been left red-faced, chose to withdraw six officials from their mission in India back to Islamabad amid rumours that possibly a larger spy ring was going to be busted soon.
Pakistan’s move to declare eight members of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad as persona non grata and accusing them of being part of a spy ring comes across as a tit-for-tat act of self-righteousness. The fact that they have not put up any evidence to support their claim of the Indian diplomats being spies and acting against Pakistan shows that India’s neighbour is reacting in a reckless manner.
After the Uri attack, India retaliated with surgical strikes on terror launchpads along the LoC in PoK. Multiple terrorist attacks have followed on a regular basis since. Indian government had upped its diplomatic offensive to isolate the country diplomatically, economically and strategically on the international front. There was, however, an outside chance that tensions would subside through diplomatic channels as stable relations with nuclear-powered nations like Pakistan have become a necessity, even if it turns to a blister.