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India Expels Two Pakistan High Commission Officials

by Newsweek Pakistan

Foreign Office condemns Indian action, declaring it part of a ‘pre-planned’ campaign to malign Islamabad

India on Sunday declared two officials of the Pakistan High Commission “persona non grata” and directed them to leave the country within 24 hours, prompting Pakistan’s Foreign Office to condemn the “pre-planned and orchestrated” move.

According to a press released issued by the Indian government, the two officials—Abid Hussain Abid and Tahir Khan—were apprehended by law enforcement officials for “indulging in espionage.” The two men, both junior staffers of the visa section, were detained while allegedly obtaining classified documents and handing over cash and an iPhone to their Indian contact, reported Indian media.

A third Pakistani, a driver with the mission, was also briefly detained before being allowed to go free, they added.

“Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged with regard to the activities of [the] officials of the High Commission of Pakistan against India’s national security,” read the statement issued by New Delhi. “Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires was asked to ensure that no member of its diplomatic mission should indulge in activities inimical to India, or behave in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status,” it added.

False charges

Reacting to the Indian actions, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui alleged the move had been part of negative, pre-planned, and orchestrated anti-Pakistan propaganda.

In a statement, she said Indian authorities had arrested the two staff members on false and unsubstantiated charges, adding they were released on the intervention of the High Commission.

She alleged the staff members had been tortured, and condemned the Indian government’s pressuring of diplomatic officials to accept the false charges framed against them.

Farooqui said Pakistan strongly rejects the baseless Indian allegations, adding the arrests and “persona non grata” declaration were in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct.

The spokesperson said the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had always worked within parameters of international law and diplomatic norms.

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