India has pulled the first set of diplomatic staffers from Pakistan after Islamabad named and shamed eight Indian officials for engaging in "terrorist and subversive activities". Three Indian officials, who Islamabad says were working with intelligence agencies, left Pakistan on Tuesday (8 November) underscoring the tensions between the two countries.
The three men — Anurag Singh, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar — working with the Indian High Commission in the Pakistan capital left the host country via Dubai to reach India. All three of them have been accused of carrying out spying activities for Indian's Research and Analysis Wing (Raw).
"Three of the eight officials have returned to India today. A decision regarding the remaining five officials is yet to be taken," a Pakistan diplomatic source told the daily Express Tribune. The remaining five India staff members are accused of working for the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Earlier, the Pakistani foreign ministry revealed the names of eight men conducting illegal activities on Pakistani soil. The ministry's spokesperson went on to say: "They [India] are desperate to hide their crimes against humanity from the international community's scrutiny," after alleging that the accused undercover agents have been handling Pakistani extremists as well.
Foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told a routine press conference on Thursday (3 November): "As you are aware, a number of Indian diplomats and staff belonging to Indian intelligence agencies Raw and IB have been found involved in coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments."
The rival neighbours are locked in a diplomatic tussle over the last few weeks after a senior Pakistani staffer was caught for allegedly handling sensitive defence details in New Delhi. Mehmood Akhtar, 35, was quickly expelled by Indian officials for alleged espionage and the Pakistani side responded in kind with the same vigour. In retaliation, Islamabad accused Surjeet Singh, a staffer at the Indian High Commission, of spying on Pakistani soil and forced him to leave the country.