New Delhi: India on Thursday completely rejected as "baseless and unsubstantiated" allegations levelled by Pakistan against eight officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and strongly protested the manner in which their names and photos were published, compromising their security.
In a sharp reaction, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the allegations against Indian officials represent an "after-thought" and a "crude attempt" to target them for no fault of theirs, after a Pakistan High Commission staffer was caught red handed here last week while indulging in anti-India activities.
Pakistan today claimed that the Indian 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."
Asked whether the Indian officials are being recalled, Swarup said it is procedural matter and government will take necessary steps keeping in view all aspects of the situation.
"We completely reject the baseless and unsubstantiated allegations made by Pakistan against certain officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The Government categorically denies those allegations.”
"It is especially regrettable that Pakistani authorities have chosen to level these allegations after deciding to recall, on their own, six officials of the Pakistan High Commission, some of whom may have been named to Indian authorities by Mehmood Akhtar - Pakistan High Commission official caught red handed," Swarup said.
It is learnt that India will withdraw the eight diplomats as their security have been compromised.
Swarup said the Indian officials "falsely implicated" were working in the fields of promoting people-to-people and trade and economic contacts between the two countries.
"Pakistan's false allegations against them have the potential to adversely affect the corresponding activities of the High Commission," he said.
He said the Government "protests strongly the manner in which names and photos of the eight Indian officials, - four of them holders of diplomatic passport - have been published. This is against basic norms of diplomatic practice and courtesy."
The MEA Spokesperson said the allegations against the Indian official are prejudicial to their safety and security. "We expect the Government of Pakistan to take all necessary steps to ensure the security and safety of not only these eight diplomats and officials but all other members of the High Commission and their families while they are in Pakistan," he said.
Pakistan had yesterday pulled out six of its officials in the wake of a spy scandal involving staffers of its High Commission.
Swarup said Pakistan's baseless allegations add to the "risks to peace and security in the region emanating from Pakistan's support to cross-border terrorism against its neighbours."
He said Pakistan was in complete denial of the problem and deflecting its responsibility by resorting to "fanciful accusations".
On Pakistan's allegations of ceasefire violations by India along the LoC, he said they neither do Indian forces initiate ceasefire violation nor do they target civilians. "They retaliate in a very calibrated and restrained manner when either their defensive posts or personnel are targeted or cover fire is provided by the Pakistani army to allow infiltrators to cross the Line of Control.”
"We completely reject Pakistan's allegations of any unprovoked firing by our forces. I would like to remind you that that we have lodged a strong protest with Pakistan on killing of our civilians in shelling by Pakistan forces," he said.
The MEA spokesperson said approximately two-thirds of the ceasefire violations this year by Pakistan have taken place in the last five weeks.
"In fact in several districts along the International Border and Line of Control, normal life has been affected, people have been displaced and over 100 schools have been closed," he said.
On Tuesday, Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned by the Pakistan Foreign Office for the fourth time in just over a week alleging "unprovoked ceasefire violations" by Indian security forces.
India yesterday summoned Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner here and conveyed its "grave concern" as well as strong protest at the recent escalation in incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan on border which have resulted in several fatalities on Indian side....