India on Tuesday recalled three of its eight high commission officials in Islamabad whose identities were made public by the Pakistan foreign office during a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions.
Amid deteriorating ties, Pakistan in the morning summoned Indian deputy high commissioner JP Singh to protest the killing of three civilians in cross-LoC firing, as the three Indian officials left Islamabad.
First secretary Anurag Singh, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar left in an Emirates flight to return to Delhi via Dubai, sources said.
Five other officials – Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, Amerdeep Singh Bhatti, Dharmendra Sodhi, Balbir Singh and Jayabalan Senthil – would leave for India via road through the Wagah border, they said.
“The security of eight officials was compromised by Pakistan,” said an official source, explaining the reasons for New Delhi’s decision to recall the staff.
Briefing the press, a Pakistan foreign office spokesperson had last week named the eight officials, accusing them of working for Indian intelligence agencies and supporting terrorist activities in Balochistan and Sindh.
Islamabad’s move to release the name and photographs of the officials came within days of India ordering out a Delhi-based Pakistani diplomat for running a suspected spy ring.
The expulsion triggered a series of similar actions by both the countries.
India has refuted charges made against its officials. “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,” ministry of external affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup had said.
The allegations against officials were an “after-thought” and a “crude attempt” to target them.
“The government strongly protests the manner in which names and photos of the eight Indian officials - four of them holders of diplomatic passport - have been published. This is against basic norms of diplomatic practice and courtesy,” he said.
It was not the first time that Islamabad went public with the details of diplomatic staff posted in Pakistan. Between 2010 and 2014, Pakistan “outed” three station chiefs of the Central Intelligence Agency, forcing the US to call them back.