After India declares one diplomat persona non grata, Pakistan may recall four embassy officials
On October 26, the Delhi Police trapped Pakistan's Mehmood Akhtar when he was receiving military documents from ISI agents.
Islamabad: Days after Indian authorities declared one diplomat persona non grata in connection with an espionage case, Pakistan is pondering over pulling out from India four of its officials posted in the High Commission in New Delhi.
News agency IANS quoted a source at the Foreign Office as saying on Monday: "This is under consideration. A final decision would be taken shortly."
In his statement recorded before the Delhi Police, High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar took the names of four officials - Commercial Counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and First Secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.
Notably, Akhtar was expelled from India after being declared persona non grata.
However, the former High Commission official, who returned to Islamabad last week, later told Dawn news that he had given the statement under duress.
"They took me to a police station after detaining me where I was forced to read out a written statement provided by them in which the names of the four officers were given and was told to state that they belonged to Pakistan's intelligence services," said Akhtar.
He further narrated how he was "manhandled and picked" from outside a zoo while on his way back from Nizamuddin shrine and taken to a Delhi police station, where he was coerced into recording a statement before being expelled from the country.
Pakistan and India have in the past expelled each other's diplomats and officials due to their tense relationship, but it is one of those rare occasions where one of the countries took the extreme step of revealing the identities of officers.
Pakistani officials believe that India did this on purpose to heighten the tensions.
"We consider it as a serious breach of diplomatic norms. The Indian move has complicated the already tense situation and threatened the lives of our diplomatic staff," a Pakistani official said, adding it was a "deliberate and provocative action".
On October 26, the Delhi Police trapped Akhtar when he was receiving military documents from ISI agents.
Akhtar was released after around three hours of interrogation as he enjoys diplomatic immunity.