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Pakistan Breaks From Custom, Names 8 Indian High Commission Staff, Accusing Them Of Espionage

04/11/2016 8:37 AM IST | Updated 04/11/2016 9:36 AM IST
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Spokesman of the Pakistan's Foreign Ministry Nafees Zakaria looks on at a press conference in Islamabad on September 29, 2016.

Pakistan has released the names and designations of eight Indian High Commission officials, following which their photographs were leaked to the Pakistani media, as New Delhi and Islamabad tackle an upsurge in tensions.

Furthermore, Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria alleged yesterday that the Indian mission officials were colluding with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factions, fuelled unrest in Balochistan, Sindh, and Gilgit-Baltistan, the Indian Express reported.

"Their names and designations are: Research and Analysis Wing's operatives -- RAW's station chief Anurag Singh, first secretary Commercial; Commercial Counsellor Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri; Amerdeep Singh Bhatti, attache visa; Dharmendra Sodhi, staff; Vijay Kumar Verma, staff; and Madhavan Nanda Kumar, staff. Indian Intelligence Bureau's operatives are Balbir Singh, first secretary press and information and IB station chief and Jayabalan Senthil, assistant personnel welfare officer," Zakaria said.

An Indian official who was not named, told the paper that although everybody in the missions knows the identity of the staff, but so far they have never been named publicly through official channels. "It has been a complete no-no, all these years. That rule has been broken," the official said.

Zakaria read out a statement at his weekly briefing saying that a number of Indian diplomats and staffers were involved in "coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments".

He claimed that Surjeet Singh, who was declared persona non-grata by Pakistan a few days back, was also an IB operative. Surjeet was using a fake identity pretending to be telecom company Warid's employee, he claimed.

Pakistan had declared Surjeet persona non-grata after India's action against Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar following Indian police's busting of an ISI-run spy ring.

"We are disappointed that India has not only been found involved in promoting terrorist activities and terror financing as was disclosed by Kulbhushan Jadhav and further confirmed by the statements at the highest political level on August 15 and earlier during (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's) visit to Dhaka, but India has also been using its diplomatic mission for its nefarious designs," he alleged.

Zakaria claimed that the High Commission 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."

The officials also were damaging Pakistan-Afghanistan relations with a variety of activities, Zakaria alleged. Zakaria also accused India of violating the diplomatic norms and code of conduct of maintaining relations between two sovereign states.

Zakaria claimed that Indian security agencies knew that Akhtar was a High Commission official but they chose to violate the Vienna convention.

He alleged that India deliberately released the names of six other Pakistani diplomats falsely accusing them, which endangered their and their families' lives.

"Consequently, we had to recall them for their safety. These highly regrettable acts were also part of their desperation to divert world's attention from atrocities in Kashmir", he claimed.

(With PTI inputs)

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