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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 17:31 GMT
India expels Pakistani diplomats
Security forces outside Pakistan mission in Delhi
The diplomats have been given 48 hours to leave
India has ordered four members of the Pakistani mission in Delhi to leave the country.

We are reviewing the matter and will take appropriate action

Pakistan Government
Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said the four had been found "indulging in activities incompatible with their official status".

They have been given 48 hours to leave.

The Indian move follows allegations that its most senior diplomat in Islamabad had been harassed by the Pakistani authorities.

Pakistan said that it was reviewing the situation and would decide upon an appropriate response.

Allegations

Those expelled were named as: Muzaffar Sayeed, a senior councillor, Mohammed Asif, first secretary and Mohammed Khan and Sher Mohammed, both staff officers.

The Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi, Jalil Abbas, was informed of the decision when he was summoned to the Indian foreign ministry earlier on Wednesday.

Indian army lookout
The two countries came close to war last year
India has complained that its most senior diplomat in Islamabad, Sudhir Vyas, has been the victim of harassment by the Pakistani authorities.

Mr Vyas was quoted as saying that whenever he tried to leave his home, he would be boxed in by Pakistani agents in their cars.

He said that a journey to the Malaysian High Commission, which normally took 10 minutes, took him over an hour.

The ruling BJP party in India warned on Tuesday that any further harassment of the diplomat could spark a crisis between the two countries.

Pakistani reaction

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan condemned the expulsions, saying they would only increase tension between the two countries.

He said it appeared to be part of a deliberate policy for "internal political reasons," according to the Associated Press of Pakistan.

There is no indication yet as to what Pakistan might do in response, but in the past the two countries have usually carried out tit-for-tat expulsions.

Pakistan has also alleged that its diplomats in Delhi are the victims of harassment.

The two countries have regularly expelled each other's diplomats, usually alleging that they were spying.

India recalled its ambassador to Islamabad in response to an attack on its parliament in December 2001 by Islamic militants.

It expelled Pakistan's ambassador last May as the nations came close to war.

The BBC's Satish Jacob says the latest expulsions have brought ties between the two neighbours to a new low.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Satish Jacob
"Pakistan has scoffed at the allegation made by the Indian envoy"
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21 Jan 03 | South Asia
20 Jan 03 | South Asia
13 Jan 03 | South Asia
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