NEW DELHI/KARACHI

Two officials of the High Commission of Pakistan in India’s capital New Delhi were apprehended Sunday by law enforcement for alleged espionage activities, said India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The Government has declared both these officials persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission and asked them to leave the country within twenty-four hours,” said an official statement by the ministry.

Pakistan’s charge de affaires was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged over the alleged activities of the two officials against India’s national security.

“Pakistan’s charge de affaires was asked to ensure that no member of its diplomatic mission should indulge in activities inimical to India or behave in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status,” the statement said.

– Pakistan condemns move

The move — another sign of escalating tensions between the two South Asian nuclear-armed rivals — follows almost daily clashes between forces of the two sides along the Line of Control, a de facto border that divides the disputed Kashmir valley between the two neighbors.

Pakistan for its part condemned New Delhi’s move, terming it “part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda.”

“Two staff members of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were lifted by the Indian authorities today (Sunday) on false and unsubstantiated charges. They were, however, released on intervention by the High Commission,” said a statement by the Foreign Ministry.

“We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges,” it added.

“Pakistan strongly rejects the baseless Indian allegations and deplores the Indian action, which is in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct, especially in an already vitiated atmosphere,” the statement went on to say.

The High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi, it further said, had always worked within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms.

The Indian action, it added was clearly aimed at shrinking diplomatic space for the working of the Pakistan High Commission.

“The Indian attempts to escalate the tensions will not succeed in diverting attention either from the ongoing internal and external issues faced by the BJP government or from the worsening situation and gross human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).”

Islamabad urged the international community to take notice of the “Indian designs” and a play its role in ensuring peace and security in South Asia.

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