India expels 2 Pakistani embassy officials on spying charges

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Sunday said it caught two Pakistan High Commission officials in the Indian capital spying and ordered them to leave the country within 24 hours.

An Indian External Affairs Ministry statement said a strong protest was lodged with the Pakistan High Commission regarding the activities of its two officials which it said were against India’s national security.

It didn’t say whether the two were holding diplomatic status or were junior officers working in the Pakistani mission.

In Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, the foreign ministry condemned India’s decision about the expulsion of two of its embassy officials. In a statement, it said the two staff members of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi were lifted by Indian authorities Sunday on false and unsubstantiated charges. “They were, however, released on intervention by the High Commission. We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of diplomatic officials to accept false charges,” it said.

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Pakistan also summoned an Indian diplomat to lodge a strong protest over the move.

India and Pakistan routinely expel each other’s diplomats on spying charges and Pakistan is also expected to respond by expelling Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad in a tit-for-tat action.

India-Pakistan ties deteriorated sharply after India downgraded the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir from statehood to a federally administered territory in August last year and limited its decision-making power.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir since they won independence from British colonialists in 1947. Both control parts of the region and claim it in entirety.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgent groups fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. Islamabad denies the charge and says it only provides moral and diplomatic support to them.

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Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmed contributed to this report from Islamabad, Pakistan.

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