NEW DELHI: India announced Thursday it was expelling a Pakistani visa official Akhtar Mehmood for suspected spying after he was briefly detained carrying sensitive defence documents, with tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours already running high.
Earlier this morning, Pakistan High Commission Staff Officer Akhtar Mehmood has been arrested and released by Indian police for alleged espionage.
India’s foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar summoned Pakistan’s high commissioner Abdul Basit to inform him of the decision to expel the consular official, who was briefly detained on Wednesday.
“FS (foreign secretary) summons Pak High Commissioner to convey that Pak High Commission staffer has been declared persona non grata for espionage activities,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Twitter.
Delhi police crime commissioner Ravindra Yadav said the official had been detained on Wednesday with defence and other documents in his possession.
The documents included information on deployment of India’s border security forces, Yadav told a press conference.
A Pakistani diplomatic source said the visa official, named as Mehmood Akhtar, had been given 48 hours to leave the country.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit lodged a “strong protest” with the Indian foreign ministry and said the detention contravened diplomatic conventions, the source said.
“Pakistan never engages in activity that is incompatible with its diplomatic status,” he said. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947. Both claim the territory in full and have fought two wars over the mountainous region.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have soared since a raid last month on an Indian army base near the de-facto border dividing Kashmir killed 19 soldiers, the worst such attack in years.
India pointed the finger of blame at militants in Pakistan and said it had responded by carrying out strikes across the heavily-militarised Line of Control, although Islamabad denies these took place.
Meanwhile, Kashmiris living on both sides of Line of Control and the world over are observing Black Day today to condemn the illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir State by Indian forces.
India had landed its armed military troops in Srinagar on this day 69 years ago against the wishes of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Meanwhile, intense and heavy exchange of fire continued for 11 hours on Harpal and Chuprar sectors on Working Boundary between Indian and Pakistani forces, Radio Pakistan reported.
Pakistani Rangers befittingly responded to unprovoked Indian firing and targetted Indian posts inflicting heavy casualties.
On Pakistani side, five civilians were injured due to unprovoked Indian firing.
-AFP/ Radio Pakistan