As India prepares to evacuate eight of its diplomats and staffers from Pakistan after the government there put out their names and alleged they were Indian spies, New Delhi and Islamabad are looking at one of the most serious curtailing of their missions in recent times, the Indian Express reported.
In an unprecedented move, names, designations of Indian mission officials and their photographs were leaked to the Pakistani media Wednesday and the Pakistan Foreign Ministry held a press conference Thursday to officially announce their identities.
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told the press in Islamabad: "As you are aware, a number of Indian diplomats and staff belonging to Indian intelligence agencies RAW and IB have been found involved in coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments."
"The names and designations of the suspected operatives provided by the FO are as follows: suspected Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) operatives: Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri (commercial counsellor and R&AW station chief), Anurag Singh (first commercial secretary), Amerdeep Singh Bhatti (visa attache), Dharmendra Sodhi, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar (staff members). Suspected IB operatives are Balbir Singh (first secretary press and information & Intelligence Bureau (IB) station chief; Jayabalan Senthil (assistant personnel welfare officer)," Zakaria said.
Zakaria alleged that these Indian officials handled Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factions, fuelled sectarianism in Pakistan and created unrest in Balochistan, Sindh, and Gilgit-Baltistan.
New Delhi completely rejected the "baseless and unsubstantiated" allegations made by Pakistan against its officials in the Islamabad mission. "The government categorically denies those allegations," MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the Indian Express.
Artillery duels and skirmishing have recently intensified along the frontier running through Kashmir.