Pakistan expels India diplomat in tit-for-tat move

October 28, 2016 10:46 am

This photo, taken in Lahore, , on October 27, 2016, shows Pakistani protesters burning the Indian flag to show their support for the Kashmiri people. (By AFP)

Pakistan has declared an Indian diplomat persona non grata and given him 48 hours to leave the country, in a thinly-veiled tit-for-tat attempt that comes a day after said it would deport a Pakistani consular official.
Late on Thursday night, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had declared Indian diplomat Surjeet Singh persona non grata and that it had informed the Indian High Commission, which is India’s diplomatic mission in Pakistan, of the decision.
The statement said Singh was accused of activities “that were in violation of the Vienna Convention and the established diplomatic norms.”
No specific details were given.
An aide to India’s prime minister in New Delhi said the Indian government was looking into the matter.
On Thursday morning, India had said it had declared a Pakistani consular official persona non grata for “espionage activities” against New Delhi.
Mehmood Akhtar, the visa official at the Pakistani mission, had been briefly detained by Indian police on Wednesday outside the gates to the Delhi Zoo, where he had met two Indian associates whom police believe he had recruited to spy for him.
The Pakistani diplomat and his alleged Indian accomplices were found in possession of forged documents, defense-related maps, deployment charts and lists of officers working along India’s border with Pakistan, Indian police said in a statement.
An Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the man, who was released from custody under diplomatic immunity rules, must leave the country in 48-hours.

Kashmiris protesters shout anti-India slogans at a rally in Muzaffarabad, October 26, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi dismissed the allegation, saying in a statement that it “never engages in any activity that is incompatible with its diplomatic status.”
Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained in recent months, with India blaming Pakistan for a raid on an army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir in September that killed 19 soldiers. New Delhi responded with what it described as “surgical strikes,” infuriating Islamabad.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.
They have fought four wars with each other, three of which have been over Kashmir.
India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire in Kashmir on November 26, 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with the two sides trading accusations of violating the ceasefire along their de facto border.
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