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Tit-for-Tat Diplomatic Expulsions
Another blow to peace between India and Pakistan
Bhuwan Thapaliya (Bhuwan)     Print Article 
Published 2006-08-07 11:33 (KST)   
In the never-ending war of allegations between India and Pakistan, neither side ever wins completely. Recently, however, things have taken a sordid turn and observers fear that these are tumultuous times for both countries.

First Pakistan expelled a senior Indian diplomat from Islamabad, then India retaliated by asking Rafique Ahmad, a counselor with Pakistan's High Commission to leave India by Monday.

This is not the first tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats by the two countries. In February 2003, India declared Pakistan's deputy high commissioner persona non grata on false charges.

Analysts fear this latest expulsion will cause an uproar that will bring diplomatic relations to a crawl, if not a standstill.

According to the Times of India, Deepak Kaul, a visa counselor at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, was arrested at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, in a Lahore-Islamabad highway tea shop, while on his way to receive his family at the Wagah border, even though he had secured permission for his Wagah trip.

It has been reported that Kaul was grabbed by eight people, who handcuffed him, kept him blindfolded, and ill-treated him at an undisclosed location for about five hours, in brazen violation of the Vienna Convention as well as bilateral agreements.

Pakistan rejected Indian allegations that Kaul was handcuffed, blindfolded, or maltreated by security personnel.

Reports indicate that Kaul was later brought to the foreign office, in Islamabad, where he was handed over to the Indian deputy high commissioner at around 1 p.m.

Indian officials there were told that Kaul was caught receiving sensitive documents from his contact.

India said the allegation was baseless and a few hours later, in New Delhi, officially accused Syed Muhammad Rafique Ahmed, a counselor with the High Commission of Pakistan, of being involved in activities incompatible with his diplomatic status. He was asked to leave India by Aug. 7.

Pakistan denied the accusation and said India was targeting an innocent diplomat in a clear act of retaliation.

Observers say the incident could further undermine bilateral ties already strained by the Mumbai bomb blasts.

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bhuwan Thapaliya

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