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Pakistan Expels Indian Embassy Officials

February 8, 2003

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Pakistan on Saturday ordered the acting Indian ambassador and four other Indian Embassy officials to leave the country in an apparent retaliation for the expulsion by India of its senior diplomat.

Sudhir Vyas, the acting ambassador of the Indian Embassy has 48 hours to leave the country, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Earlier Saturday, India ordered Jalil Abbas Jilani, the acting head of the Pakistani diplomatic mission, to leave India within 48 hours, a day after accusing him of funneling money to separatists in Kashmir. Four other Pakistan Embassy staff also were ordered to leave India.

The two countries routinely engage in tit-for-tat diplomatic posturing.

Pakistan accused Vyas and his four colleagues at the Indian Embassy here of ``involvement in activities incompatible with their status,″ a usual reference to spying. The other Indian Embassy officials ordered out of Pakistan were Rahul Rasgotra, first secretary, and embassy staff M.R. Balu, Rambir Singh and Surinder Raj Anand.

While the Indian Embassy officials have to be out of the country within two days, their families have seven days to leave.

The Pakistan foreign ministry said the decision to expel five employees of the Indian Embassy here keeps staff numbers the same as those at the Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi.

``Reciprocating the Indian decision to further cut the strength of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi from 51 to 47 personnel, the government of Pakistan has also decided to apply the same staff ceiling on the Indian High Commission in Islamabad,″ the ministry statement said.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since the British gave the Asian subcontinent its independence in 1947.

Two of the three conflicts have been over the disputed Kashmir region, which is divided between the two nuclear neighbors and claimed in its entirety by both nations.

They routinely accuse the other of fomenting violence and carrying out acts of sabotage on each other’s territory. India says Pakistan is arming, training and financing a bloody secessionist movement in Indian-controlled Kashmir that has killed as many as 60,000 people since 1989.

Pakistan says its support is limited to political and diplomatic help.

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