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Snapping ties?

In a worrying development, India and Pakistan may recall their envoys following rising hostilities in their diplomatic interactions. The latest development involves Pakistan’s unprecedented and rather unnecessary decision to release the names and designations of Indian mission officials and their photographs to the Pakistani media on Wednesday. The Pakistan Foreign Ministry held a press conference the following day to officially announce their identities, making outlandish claims that they were RAW and IB officials involved in terror activities. In response, New Delhi ultimately rejected the “baseless and unsubstantiated” allegations. The diplomatic fracas between the two nations began when a staffer at the Pakistan High Commission, Mehmood Akhtar, was expelled on October 27 for gathering classified information on the deployment of Indian security forces along the western coast in the Sir Creek and Kutch areas, besides military installations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. Islamabad’s actions come soon after Mehmood Akhtar’s video, in which he named four Pakistan diplomats and staffers as belonging to the ISI, was made public. Expulsion of sleuths and the curtailing of diplomatic missions is standard practice during moments of high tension between the two countries. The last major curtailment was after the 2001 Parliament attack. But even then both sides avoided the mass declaration of intelligence sleuths in their respective missions, according to Indian officials. Moreover, Pakistani officials have presented no tangible evidence of the role played by Indian mission officials. These developments have further strained already tense relations between the two countries. The scaling down of diplomatic missions could hinder people-to-people and trade and economic ties that have been one of the main bulwarks against all-out escalation.
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