Pakistan accuses eight Indian diplomats of ‘espionage, terrorism’
Pakistan has accused eight Indian diplomats of conducting acts of “espionage and terrorism” against Islamabad.
In a statement released by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry on Thursday, the Indians, whose names leaked to the media overnight, were accused of causing instability in Pakistan’s Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.
The statement said the Indian diplomats had been sabotaging Pakistan’s most crucial economic project, the 46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which involves transport and energy infrastructure projects to connect China with Pakistan’s coast on the Arabian Sea.
The men were also accused of allegedly liaising with factions of the Pakistani Taliban and of trying to inflict damage on Pakistan’s relations with its western neighbor Afghanistan.
The statement, however, did not say whether the diplomats would be expelled by Islamabad or withdrawn by New Delhi.
The development come only a day after India announced that it had decided to withdraw eight of its diplomats stationed in Islamabad because of their identification in the local media as suspected spies.
The eight diplomats announced by India were most likely to be the same eight designated by Pakistan as involved in “espionage and terrorism.” Reports did not make that clear, however.
The statement also said that Islamabad has already withdrawn six Pakistani diplomats from its mission in India after Indian media reported that they had been involved in espionage activities.
Diplomatic tensions generated between India and Pakistan last week when India ordered one employee of the Pakistani High Commission out of the country, saying he was a suspected spy. Islamabad expelled an Indian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move.
Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained in the recent months, with New Delhi blaming Islamabad for a raid on an army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir in September, which killed 19 soldiers.
The two countries have also been at loggerheads over the past months regarding the conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The region saw a protest by the majority-Muslim population in July, when a popular pro-independence fighter was killed by Indian forces.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947. They have fought four wars with each other, three of which have been over Kashmir.
Furthermore, New Delhi blames the surge in the unrest in Kashmir on Islamabad, claiming that its nuclear-armed neighbor has sent militants to the Himalayan region to trigger more violence.
In the past few months, cross-border clashes have mounted between the two sides, too, resulting in dozens of casualties. The latest of such clashes last weekend left nearly 20 people dead from the two sides.