New Delhi: India on Friday condemned Pakistan’s move of declaring persona non grata an officer posted in its High Commission in Islamabad.
“Government notes with regret the government of Pakistan’s decision to declare Surjeet Singh, Assistant Personnel and Welfare Officer in the High Commission of India in Islamabad, persona non grata and expel him and his family members,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
“No justification has been provided by the government of Pakistan except for the completely baseless and unsubstantiated allegation that his activities were not in keeping with diplomatic norms,” it stated.
“The government condemns Pakistan’s step.”
Pakistan’s move came hours after Indian authorities detained a Pakistani High Commission official, Mehmood Akhtar, in New Delhi on Thursday on charges of running a spy network.
The Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned the Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit and asked that Akhtar, a visa officer, be sent back within 48 hours.
On Thursday evening, in what was obviously a retaliatory move, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale in Islamabad and declared Indian high commission official Surjeet Singh as persona non grata and asked that he leave the country by Saturday.
“It is obvious that the step is an afterthought following yesterday’s apprehension of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar in Delhi while indulging in anti-India activities,” the External Affairs Ministry statement said.
“Pakistan’s action further confirms that it continues to be in denial of its anti-India activities, including cross-border terrorism,” it added.