India on Wednesday decided to withdraw eight officials from the high commission in Islamabad after they were identified in local media reports, amidst growing tension between the two countries after a Pakistani high commission staffer in Delhi was caught in an espionage ring and expelled.
Indian diplomats had been “completely compromised” after their names and pictures were put in the public domain in Pakistan, an external affairs ministry official said.
The Geo TV identified two Indian officials Rajesh Agnihotri and Balbir Singh and claimed that they were involved in subversive activities in Pakistan.
The Geo TV alleged that Agnihotri was directly linked with RAW while Singh was working for Intelligence Bureau (IB) and they were allegedly using their positions in Pakistan as cover to hide their real identities.
It claimed Singh was also running a network of militants in Pakistan and expelled high commission official Surjeet Singh was also part of his network.
Pakistan calls back six high commission officials from India
Earlier in the day, as many as six officials in the Pakistani high commission in Delhi returned home, days after India declared Pakistani high commission official Mehmood Akhtar persona non-grata for espionage activities.
The six high commission officials returned to Pakistan via the Wagah border.
According to reports, those who have left include commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.
The Pakistani action comes days after India declared Pakistani official Mehmood Akhtar persona non-grata for espionage activities, triggering a tit for tat action from Islamabad, which also expelled an Indian high commission official there.
ISI spy ‘reveals bigger ring at Delhi mission’
Mehmood Akhtar is believed to have revealed that he was part of a bigger espionage ring operating from the mission.
Sources said that ISI officer Mehmood Akhtar had admitted as much during questioning after he was detained by the Delhi Police crime branch. They claimed that apart from the four high commission officials he specifically mentioned, Mehmood said that there were at least 10 others tasked with sourcing information from Indians.
Akhtar, who worked in the visa section of the Pakistan high commission and had diplomatic immunity, was procuring critical details including those about deployment of BSF personnel along the India-Pakistan border from two other accomplices who were arrested in Delhi.
Akhtar and two others – identified as Subhash Jangir and Maulana Ramzan- were picked up from Delhi Zoo last month. Akhtar was released after around three hours of interrogation as he enjoys diplomatic immunity.