Pakistani PM Imran Khan reiterated his apprehensions for regional peace and security to Italian PM Giuseppe Conte after India expelled two officials of the Pakistan high commission on charges of espionage.
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According to reports, three officials of the Pakistani mission were detained while allegedly trying to obtain classified information on the Indian security establishment. The Indian move came as tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours are already high.
The three men initially reportedly insisted that they were Indians and even displayed fake Aadhar cards, the officials said. “Later, during interrogation, they admitted they were officials at the Pakistan high commission and worked for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI),” according to reports in the Indian media.
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A case was registered against them under the Official Secrets Act. Consequently, the government ordered the expulsion of Abid and Khan, who both work for the visa section at the Pakistani mission.
“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,” read an official handout issued by the Indian foreign ministry, which also summoned the Pakistani chargé d’affaires on the issue.
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But within hours of the Indian move, Pakistan reacted sharply and denounced the expulsion of its diplomats. “The Indian action has been accompanied by a negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda,” said a foreign office statement.
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PM Khan, in a telephone call with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte said that Modi government’s tactics in the region were dangerously endangering peace and security in South Asia, the PM’s office said in a statement.
PM Khan also communicated his anxiety over the continuing lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir and changes in domicile law, which would enable non-Kashmiri to settle in the volatile region. He said that India was changing the demographic composition of the region in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, including the 4th Geneva Convention.a