Two officials at Pakistan’s high commission have been expelled for “espionage activities”, India’s foreign ministry said late on Sunday, allegations its nuclear-armed rival called “baseless”.
The ministry said in a statement: “The government has declared both these officials persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission.”
The pair had to leave the country within 24 hours, and Pakistan’s charge d’affaires was issued with a “strong protest” over their alleged activities, the ministry said.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it “strongly rejects the baseless Indian allegations” and called Delhi’s action a “clear violation of the Vienna Convention … especially in an already vitiated atmosphere”.
Tensions between the neighbouring countries have already been elevated over Kashmir in recent times, particularly since August last year when Delhi scrapped the Muslim-majority region’s semi-autonomous status and imposed a curfew. In response, Islamabad said at that time it would recall its ambassador from Delhi and send back the Indian envoy.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since independence, including two over Kashmir where they have rival claims.
Sunday’s expulsion order came after a German court in early May said an Indian national would stand trial there in August accused of spying on Sikh and Kashmiri communities for Delhi’s secret service.
India is also experiencing increased friction with other neighbours China and Nepal.
India has several disputes with regional superpower China along their 3,500-kilometre (2,175-mile) border.
Hundreds of Indian and Chinese troops became involved in the latest face-off concentrated in India’s Ladakh region just opposite Tibet.
The Nepalese government in mid-May drew up a new political map that included strategically important territory it disputes with India.
The new map followed protests in Nepal after its bigger neighbour inaugurated an 80-kilometre road in Uttarakhand state leading up to a disputed pass.