India Expels Four Pakistanis From Embassy
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ India ordered the expulsion of four Pakistani embassy officials Wednesday, a move Islamabad called ``unfortunate″ and said would further damage relations between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.
The four officials, including the second highest diplomat at the mission, were told to leave the country within 48 hours, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Navtej Sarna, said.
Sarna implied the four were spying, saying they ``were found indulging in activities incompatible with their official status.″
The expulsions came as the two nations accused each other of harassing their diplomats and increased their hostile rhetoric in recent weeks, indicating that despite pulling back from a war stance, neither is in the mood for improved relations.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Kamran Niaz called the Indian move ``unfortunate.″
``It is yet another action to vitiate the atmosphere which is already very bad. They have upped the ante and created another unpleasant development,″ he said in Islamabad.
Niaz would not say whether Pakistan would reciprocate and expel Indian diplomats, as it usually does. ``We have to evaluate what they have done and the government will take appropriate action,″ he said.
Those asked to leave the Pakistan High Commission, or embassy, are two diplomats _ Counsellor Mansoor Saeed Sheikh and First Secretary Mian Muhammad Asif _ and two staff members, Muhammad Tasneem Khan and Sher Muhammad.
The counsellor was effectively the second highest official at the New Delhi mission. Normally he would be the third, but Pakistan has called home its high commissioner _ equivalent to ambassador _ leaving a deputy in charge. India and Pakistan called home their high commissioners from each other’s capitals just over a year ago.
India and Pakistan routinely expel each other’s diplomats on spying charges.
Sarna repeated charges that India’s senior diplomat in Islamabad, Sudhir Vyas, was repeatedly harassed by Pakistani security agents in the past five days.
Pakistani intelligence agents stopped Vyas from leaving his house and used four vehicles to box in his car on Saturday and Monday, he said.
``Such harassment is unprecedented and unacceptable,″ he said.
Pakistan also claims Indian security agents harassed its top diplomat in the Indian capital earlier this month.
Its Deputy High Commissioner to India, Jalil Abbas Jillani, complained that Indian intelligence agents followed his car too closely and pursued him into a restaurant, according to newspaper reports. Pakistan protested formally to India on Jan. 7.
India rejected Pakistan’s accusation.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars and came to the brink of a fourth last year, following an attack on India’s Parliament that India blamed on Pakistan’s spy agency and Pakistan-based militant groups.
Pakistan denied the charge.