Days after India exposed an ISI spy ring operating from Pakistan High Commission (PHC) in New Delhi, Islamabad is mulling to recall four of its officials. A Dawn report says that Pakistan is considering to recall the four officials posted in PHC as India has made their names public. Their names were made public when India released to media the statement of PHC staffer Mehboob Akhtar, who was declared persona non grata for spying against India.
The officers who may be recalled are commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal. A source in the Pakistan foreign office told Dawn that a decision to recall the four officials is under consideration and a final decision in this regard would be taken soon.
Meanwhile, the report quoted Akhtar as saying that he had given his statement to Indian authorities under “duress”. Akhtar alleged that he was “forced to read out a written statement” provided by Indian officials in which the names of the four officers were given. Akhtar further alleged that he was “told to state that they belonged to Pakistan’s intelligence services.”
Akhtar was sent back to Pakistan after Indian officials caught him with secret information about Indian defence formations. Two of his accomplishes from Rajasthan were also caught. Akhtar was running the spy ring for the ISI from Pakistan embassy in New Delhi. His modus operandi included trapping poor people to work for him.
India and Pakistan have expelled each other’s diplomats and other officials due to tensions in past. Calling it “one of those rare occasions” when one of the countries revealed identities of officers, the Dawn report says that the “incident” has “jeopardised the security of the officers and their families.”
The report quoted a Pakistani office as saying: “We consider it as a serious breach of diplomatic norms. The Indian move has complicated the already tense situation and threatened the lives of our diplomatic staff.”
From Indian perspective, a spy ring operating from the PHC doesn’t bode well for the country’s security. Diplomatic ties don’t take place if a sense of suspicion prevails. Pakistan must come clean on this.