This Thursday, India made the announcement that it was going to expel a Pakistani officer who was working at the Pakistan diplomatic mission from New Delhi. India is accusing the Pakistani officer of using his position with the consulate to start an espionage ring that would collect information for Pakistan. So far, the two neighboring countries have had a difficult history. And, recently, tensions between them have been escalating. Pakistan and India both have a strong military and nuclear capability. Recently, tensions regarding the region of Kashmir have been mounting. Also, the two countries have repeatedly accused one another of interfering in the other country’s national affairs.
Pakistani Officer Detained by Delhi Police
The officer of the Pakistani diplomatic mission that India wants to expel has been in India for over two years. Mehmood Akhtar has been working in the visa section of the diplomatic mission. But, according to Delhi police, this only enabled him to recruit Indian citizens and persuade them to spy on their country in favor of Pakistan.
The reaction from Pakistan was swift and unequivocal. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry rejected India’s accusations of espionage. Also, it did not waste time to issue a statement calling the accusations “false and unsubstantiated”. Also, the diplomatic response was to expel one of India’s officials from Pakistan. On Thursday evening, Pakistan authorities notified the Indian official working in Islamabad that he has 48 hours to leave Pakistan together with his family.
On Wednesday, Delhi police detained Mehmood Akhtar. The police say that the Pakistani official was meeting two contacts at the gate of the zoo in Delhi. He was going to perform an information swap and obtain details about military deployments close to the Indian border in exchange for money. But the police intervened and arrested him. Also, the police claim to have recovered the information that was to be the object of the trade. The two contacts had “secret defense-related maps and deployment charts”. Also, the police recovered lists that had details about military personnel belonging to the Indian army.
Ravindra Yadav is the joint commissioner of the Delhi police. He provided details of the arrest at a news conference this Thursday.
“We made a good recovery from them. In Old Delhi, the zoo, any tourist spot, they would meet there and exchange documents.”
Said Commissioner Ravindra Yadav.
Mounting Tensions between India and Pakistan
A. S. Dulat is a former chief of India’s Research and Analysis Wing. He says that it is not unusual for a diplomatic mission to serve as a cover for operations to gather intelligence. Also, it is not unusual for the host country to find out about it. He says that providing cover for intelligence officers in a consular position is an “old trick”. But he says that the public announcement and media coverage of the issue is unusual. Dulat believes this approach was chosen because of existing tensions between the two countries.
“It’s been like that between India and Pakistan of late, everything is getting hyped. Let me put it this way: If it was a Chinese or Russian or American, they would not bother too much.”
Said A. S. Dulat.
Image source: here.