There is an exodus of Pakistani mission staff from India since the arrest and expulsion of one of its officials, Mehmood Akhtar on Wednesday last week, after police apprehended him along with two of his accomplices from Rajasthan, for allegedly passing on information to Pakistan.
As many as six officials of the Pakistani high commission reportedly returned home today amid an expanding probe into the alleged espionage activities by the Pak mission official and growing tensions between the two countries.
Diplomatic sources, while refusing to confirm the number of diplomats leaving India, said six officials are in the process of leaving or have already left the country, adding that the spy probe has made life in India difficult for these officials.
''The decision has been taken after it became impossible for the officials to work in this vitiated atmosphere. 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.
Akhtar who was arrested by the Delhi Police last week with documents containing confidential, sensitive information pertaining to India's defence, had, during his interrogation told the crime branch that 16 other staffers at the Pakistan high commission were involved in the spy ring.
Reports quoting sources said those who left included commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.
Meanwhile, in a tit-for-tat, Pakistan today said it may expel two Indian diplomats from Islamabad for spying. Islamabad had already 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 had been arrested by Delhi Police last Wednesday after being caught with documents containing confidential, sensitive information pertaining to India's defence. During his interrogation by the crime branch, Akhtar allegedly said 16 other staffers at the Pakistan high commission were involved in the spy ring.
The exposure of the espionage attempts adds a new dimension to India-Pakistan's ongoing acrimony. India has been targeting Pakistan diplomatically after 19 soldiers were killed in a militant attack in September.
India blames its neighbour for harbouring the militants who carried out the attacks. It later announced carrying out surgical strikes across the Line of Control, though Pakistan has denied this claim.