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Pakistan expels Indian diplomat

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Last updated on: August 05, 2006 19:13 IST

Pakistan on Saturday expelled a senior Indian diplomat after holding him under detention and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.

Deepak Kaul, visa counsellor at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, was arrested around 7.30 am IST while he was on his way to Wagah border by road to receive his family.

He was arrested while having tea at a kiosk on the Islamabad-Lahore highway, Indian officials in Ismabad said.

"A group of about eight to nine people pounced on him, handcuffed him and took him to an undisclosed location blindfolded and kept him there for five hours," they said.

He was later handed over to Indian diplomats who were summoned to the Foreign Office.

The Indian officials were told that Kaul was "caught with documents" and has been declared persona non grata and that he had 48 hours to leave the country. Pakistan officials were not available for comment.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Afra Siab was on Saturday summoned to the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi to lodge protest against the expulsion of the Indian diplomat by Pakistan. 

Kaul's detention, handcuffing and blindfolding are in violation of diplomatic norms.

This is perhaps the first time that a diplomat has been expelled ever since the peace process was launched by the two countries in January 2004.

Before that, both countries had resorted to a series of expulsions and counter-expulsions of senior diplomats.

Few months ago, both expelled a staffer each without making it public. A Pakistan official attached to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was expelled following which a staffer from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad was declared persona non grata. Both countries have not publicised the incident.

Pakistan in the past routinely expelled Indian diplomats and officials whenever similar action was taken by New Delhi against Pakistan High Commission staff for allegedly indulging in espionage.

This is the first incident in recent times that Islamabad expelled an Indian diplomat first. Saturday's expulsion follows rising tension over allegations that Pakistan-based groups had links with the Mumbai serial train blasts.

In the wake of the July 11 blasts, the foreign secretary-level talks scheduled to be held in July in New Delhi to wrap up the third round of the Composite Dialogue process were also postponed. Pakistan denied the allegations and offered to cooperate in the probe into the attacks if India provided evidence.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and his Pakistan counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan met in Dhaka this week on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Standing Committee meeting and discussed the issue of resuming the dialogue process.

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