India on Friday protested strongly against making public the names and photographs of eight of its high commission staffers in Islamabad.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the charges against them for allegedly fomenting ‘terrorist activities and espionage’ represent an “after-thought” and a “crude attempt” to target the officials for no fault of theirs.
In an unusual move, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson on Thursday cited the names of 8 Indian officials and leveled a slew of charges against them at a press briefing. Islamabad claimed that the Indian officials were involved in “espionage, subversion and supporting terrorist activities in Balochistan and Sindh, especially Karachi, sabotaging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and fuelling instability in the two provinces.”
Islamabad’s reaction comes after a Pakistan High Commission staffer was caught red-handed here last week indulging in anti-India activities.
“We completely reject the baseless and unsubstantiated allegations made by Pakistan against certain officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The government categorically denies those allegations. 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 – Pakistan High Commission official caught red-handed,” Swarup said.
However, the MEA spokesperson said any move to recall the Indian officials will be procedural and government would take necessary steps keeping in view all aspects of the situation.
Swarup said the Indian officials “falsely implicated” were working to promote 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,” he said.
The MEA spokesperson said the allegations against the Indian official are prejudicial to their safety and security. “We expect the government of 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,” he said. Pakistan had on Wednesday pulled out six of its officials in the wake of a spy scandal involving staffers of its High Commission.