Pakistan is considering pulling out nine of its officers posted in its High Commission in New Delhi, days after a Pakistani official was detained on espionage charges and declared as persona non grata. In an apparent retaliatory move, Pakistan had declared Indian High Commission staffer in Islamabad Surjeet Singh as persona-non-grata. “This is under consideration. A final decision would be taken shortly,” a media report in Pakistan said. The names of the officers — commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal — were made public, the report said.
Earlier, it was reported that Nawaz Sharif government would recall four officials.
Meanwhile, in a series of allegations, Pakistani High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar, who was arrested by Delhi Police for possession of defence papers regarding the deployment of BSF among other subject, told Dawn that he had given the statement under duress. “They took me to a police station after detaining me where I was forced to read out a written statement provided by them in which the names of the four officers were given and was told to state that they belonged to Pakistan’s intelligence services,” the former high commission official, who returned to Islamabad last week, said. He also alleged that officials had tortured him to extract the statement and threatened to inject him with heart attack inducing injection if he refused to comply.
However, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit then denied the charges levelled against Akhtar. He asked the Indian government to ensure that no such ‘harassment’ should happen in the future. Mehmood was later released as he was in India on a diplomatic passport. He was also asked to leave the country immediately. Basit had protested with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar against the “detention and manhandling of Mehmood Akhtar” and said that that it was in direct violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police said that Mehmood Akhtar was earlier a havildar in the Baloch regiment of Pakistan Army and was later hired by the ISI. He was working with the visa department of the Pakistan High Commission.