The Indian government on Thursday rejected allegations made by Pakistani media that accused eight Indian diplomats currently serving in Pakistan of engaging in espionage and terrorism.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also strongly opposed and condemned the publication of the pictures and names of Indian High Commission officials that were leaked to Pakistani media overnight as it has "completely compromised" their security.
Pakistan alleged that these Indian officials tried to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – the $46-billion transport and energy infrastructure project aimed at linking China with Pakistan's coast on the Arabian Sea and also fuelling instability in Pakistan's Sindh and Baluchistan provinces. Of the eight Indian officials, Pakistan said six work for New Delhi's Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency, while two, it alleged, were operatives for India's Intelligence Bureau.
Speculation is rife that India is planning to pull out its officials from Pakistan as their security is now jeopardised. Commenting on the speculated plan, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup did not offer much but said: "Whatever decisions are taken on certain Indian officials in Islamabad will be based on their security."
After accusations of spying surfaced last week, India and Pakistan both expelled one diplomat each from their respective embassies. Six Pakistani diplomats were also withdrawn by Pakistan from India after Indian media reported they were involved in spying.
Reacting to the prevailing tensions, Pakistani deputy high commissioner was summoned by the Indian government on Wednesday so as to express its "grave concern and strong protest" over the denouncement of its diplomats in Islamabad. Meanwhile, on the same day, Pakistan military's press wing claimed that India had committed 178 ceasefire violations in Kashmir this year that have resulted in the killing of 19 civilians.
Speaking on Thursday, the MEA also addressed the cross-border firing and the killing of civilians. "We reject Pakistan's allegations of unprovoked firing. Our forces have only retaliated when Pakistani forces have opened fire to provide cover to infiltrators. We have lodged a strong protest with Pakistan for killing our civilians," Swarup added.
"We completely reject the baseless and unsubstantiated allegations made by Pakistan against certain officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The Indian government strongly protests the manner in which the names and photos of eight Indian officials, four of them holders of diplomatic passports, have been published. The Indian officials who have been falsely implicated were working in fields of promoting people-to-people, 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. The root cause of problems between India and Pakistan is Pakistan's support to cross border terrorism and its promotion as an element of state policy. It is important for Pakistan to desist from its failed policies, which have led to its diplomatic isolation," said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup at a news briefing on Thursday.