As many as six officials in the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi on Wednesday returned home amidst growing tension between the two countries after a Pakistani mission staffer was caught in an espionage ring and expelled.
Though there was no official confirmation on the number of diplomats leaving India, according to Pakistan High Commission sources there were six mission officials who have left or were in the process of leaving.
"The decision has been taken after it became impossible for the officials to work in this vitiated atmosphere. The Indian government is threatening and blackmailing our diplomats. So in this condition, it is impossible for us to stay in this country and work," the sources alleged.
According to the sources, those who have left include commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.
The Pakistani action comes days after India declared Pakistani official Mehmood Akhtar persona non-grata for espionage activities, triggering a tit for tat action from Islamabad, which also expelled an Indian High Commission official there.
Earlier, media reports emerging from Islamabad said Pakistan may ask at least two officials of the Indian High Commission to leave the country for their alleged involvement in subversive activities.
Akhtar, who worked in the visa section of the Pakistan High Commission and had diplomatic immunity, was procuring critical details including those about deployment of BSF personnel along the Indo-Pak border from two other accomplices who were arrested in Delhi.
Akhtar and two others -- identified as Subhash Jangir and Maulana Ramzan-- were picked up from Delhi Zoo last week. Akhtar was released after around three hours of interrogation as he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
A fourth person Shoaib, who is a Jodhpur-based passport and visa agent, was detained by Rajasthan police later.