New Delhi: India has expelled two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi for indulging in espionage activities. The officials were identified as Abid Hussain Abid (42) an assistant in the Pakistani mission, and Mohammad Tahir Khan (44) a clerk. They have been asked to leave the country within 24 hours.

The officials were obtaining documents about the Indian security establishment from a local person. The expulsions come a week after the Border Security Force caught a pigeon in Kashmir’s Kathua district as a suspected Pakistani spy.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Government has declared both these officials persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission and asked them to leave the country within 24 hours.

It added, Pakistan’s Charge de Affaires was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged with regard to the activities of these officials of the High Commission of Pakistan against India’s national security. Pakistan's Cd’A was asked to ensure that no member of its diplomatic mission should indulge in activities inimical to India or behave in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO), in a statement, has said that the expulsions had come in the midst of “an already vitiated atmosphere”. The FO, while condemning the Indian action, said the Indian move was “accompanied by a negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda”.

It said the two staffers were lifted by the Indian authorities on Sunday on “false and unsubstantiated charges. We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges.”

The FO said the Indian action was in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct. “The High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi has always worked within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms. The Indian action is clearly aimed at shrinking diplomatic space for the working of Pakistan High Commission,” it said.