Tit-for-tat expulsion a throwback to sour ties with US in 1981 | india | Hindustan Times
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Tit-for-tat expulsion a throwback to sour ties with US in 1981

india Updated: Jan 11, 2014 00:59 IST
Prashant Jha
Prashant Jha
Hindustan Times
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The tit-for-tat withdrawals of diplomats by the United States and India on Friday may have also come after a behind-the-scenes understanding to resolve the Devyani Khobragade row. But it has reminded diplomacy-watchers of incidents from the past.

In 1981, India had refused to accept George GB Griffin in the American embassy in New Delhi. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had then told reporters, “We had information that the concerned person was connected with intelligence services.” In turn, the US barred Prabhakar Menon from the Indian embassy in Washington. Soon after giving Deyani Khobragade, the US had asked India to withdraw her. India has now asked the US to withdraw a senior US counsellor and it is learnt that the time given to him for leaving the country is ‘little more than 48 hours”.

But such cases of expulsions, after declaring them persona non-grata, have been a more regular feature in ties with Pakistan. In 2003, India expelled acting Pakistani high commissioner, Jalil Abbas Jilani, and four other embassy staffers for allegedly funding Kashmiri separatists.

He was accused of ‘indulging in activities incompatible with his official status’. Pakistan had reciprocated by expelling the Indian acting high commissioner, Sudhir Vyas, and four others, from Islamabad. It is another matter that Jilani , now foreign secretary of Pakistan, came to India last year.

Tit-for-tat expulsion is a severe form on censure in international diplomatic practice. In 2010, the US expelled three Venezuelan diplomats, in reprisal for the expulsion of three US diplomats from Venezuela, who were accused of ‘plotting acts of sabotage against the government’. Britain and Russia were also engaged in a case of tit-for-tat expulsions in 2007.