Pakistan on Thursday asked a staffer of the Indian high commission to leave the country within 48 hours in retaliation for the expulsion of a Pakistani official on charges of espionage, reflecting an increase in tensions between the two sides.
Surjeet Singh was declared “persona non grata” as his activities were in “violation of the Vienna Convention and the established diplomatic norms”, a brief statement from the Foreign Office said.
The Indian official was asked to leave with his family by October 29, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told the Pakistani media.
Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry summoned Indian high commissioner Gautam Bambawale and conveyed the decision, the statement said. Zakaria said Chaudhry had expressed “severe suspicion over the activities” of the Indian staffer.
The move came hours after India expelled Akhtar Mehmood, a staffer at the Pakistani mission in New Delhi, after he was arrested on charges of obtaining secret information and documents about troop deployments.
Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit to lodge a protest.
In Islamabad, the Foreign Office protested against what it described as the “detention and manhandling” of Mehmood, a charge that was rejected by New Delhi.
The Foreign Office contended the Indian actions were an attempt to “escalate tensions and divert international attention” from human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.