New Delhi: Pakistan Foreign Ministry on Thursday publicly announced the names of eight Indian diplomats and claimed that they were intelligence operatives, a claim that was rejected by the Indian government as “baseless and unsubstantiated.”
Until now the names of these Indian diplomats, along with their photographs, had only been publicised by Pakistan media.
At a routine briefing, the Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson M. Nafees Zakaria claimed that the Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar had been “arrested and tortured” and alleged that names of Pakistani diplomats were forcibly obtained.
He accused that India had “deliberately released the names of six other diplomats and diplomatic staff falsely accusing them, which endangered their families’ lives and that of their own.” Names of four Pakistan High Commission officials were mentioned in media reports of the leaked interrogation testimony of Akhtar. Pakistan subsequently pulled out six officials who were working in the High Commission in New Delhi.
The spokesperson noted that “number of Indian diplomats and staff belonging to the Indian intelligence agencies RAW and IB have been found involved in coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments.”
He then read out eight names and claimed that six were operatives from Research and Analysis Wing and two were from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The spokesperson added that the Indian diplomat was expelled by Pakistan had been an IB officer who used a “fake identity as Abdul Hafeez pretending to be a telecom company Warid’s employee.”
Zakaria claimed that their activities ranged from terror activities in Balochistan and Sindh, “sabotaging” China Pakistan Economic corridor, damaging Pakistan-Afghan relations, fabricating evidence to portray Pakistan as state sponsor of terrorism to even handling “factions” of Pakistani Taliban.
In Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the allegations against the Indian officials represent “an after thought and a crude attempt to target these officials for no fault of theirs.”
“The government also protests strongly 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.
Swarup pointed out that the “Indian officials falsely implicated were working in the fields of promoting 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 added. India will withdraw all eight diplomats “eventually.”
He hoped that the Pakistan government would take all steps necessary to ensure that the security and safety of not only these eight diplomats and officials, but also of all other members of the High Commission and their families while they are in Pakistan.
“As to the question of their return to India, this is procedural matter. Government will take all necessary further steps keeping all aspects of the situation in view,” he said.