Two officials from the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi were expelled for “spying”, the Indian State Department said late Sunday. The nuclear armed rival is “unfounded”.
Tensions between neighboring enemies over the Kashmir Himalayas, which was divided between them in 1947 when they gained independence from Britain, have already increased.
“The government has declared these two officials inappropriate because they have engaged in activities that are inconsistent with their status as members of a diplomatic mission,” the ministry said in a statement.
The couple had to leave the country “within 24 hours” and Pakistan’s business partners received a “strong protest” against their alleged activities, the ministry said.
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “emphatically rejects the baseless Indian allegations” and called it a “clear violation of the Vienna Convention … especially in an already bad atmosphere”.
Kashmir has become a major source of tension in relations between the regional powers after New Delhi abolished the semi-autonomous status of the troubled Muslim majority region last year and imposed a curfew to suppress unrest.
India and Pakistan have waged three wars against each other since independence, including two over Kashmir, where they have rival claims.
There were also numerous relapses between the two enemies, including in February 2019 when they carried out air strikes.
Rebel groups in Kashmir, which is administered by India, have been fighting for decades for the region’s independence or its merger with Pakistan and enjoy broad support from the population.
The fighting has killed tens of thousands, mostly civilians, since 1989.
India has stationed more than 500,000 soldiers in Kashmir.
The expulsions came after a German court announced in early May that an Indian citizen would be tried there in August for being accused of spying on Sikh and Kashmiri communities for New Delhi intelligence.
India is also experiencing increased friction with its other neighbors, China and Nepal.
India has several disputes with the regional superpower China along its 3,500 km border.
Hundreds of Indian and Chinese troops are currently involved in the recent clash in the Indian region of Ladakh with Tibet.
New Delhi has declined US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate this dispute.
The Nepalese government created a new political map in mid-May that contains strategically important territory that it is contesting with India.
The new map followed protests in Nepal after its larger neighbor inaugurated an 80-kilometer road in the state of Uttarakhand that led to a controversial passport.
burs-grk / it