- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2003

NEW DELHI, Feb. 8 (UPI) — India on Saturday expelled Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi Jaleel Abbas Gilani and four other diplomatic officers for allegedly funding Kashmiri separatists.

New Delhi has asked Gilani to leave the country within 48 hours since he allegedly committed actions in breach of his diplomatic status.

"We have hard evidence to show that what he (Gilani) was doing is incompatible with diplomatic norms," the Press Trust of India quoted India's foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna as saying. Pakistan retaliated by expelling India's deputy high commissioner in Islamabad and four diplomatic officers.

India said it seized 300,000 rupees (about $6300) from a Muslim woman who said the money was to be passed on to the chief of an umbrella group of separatist rebel groups in Kashmir. She said the money was given to her by the expelled Pakistani officials.

Anjum Zamrooda Habib was arrested Thursday near the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. She told a judge the money was a "gift" from the High Commission for Kashmir's All Party Freedom Conference chief Abdul Ghani Bhatt.

India also directed four officials of the Pakistani High Commission to leave the country. They are Habibur Rehman, Aftab Ahmed, Abdul Razak and Mohammed Nazir.

A Pakistani high commission spokesperson termed India's decision to expel the diplomatic officials as "very regrettable," PTI said.

Pakistan retaliated by expelling Sudhir Vyas, India's deputy high commissioner in Islamabad, and four other embassy officials.

India had earlier expelled the Pakistani high commissioner and withdrew its own envoy to Islamabad to protest Pakistan's alleged complicity in the Dec. 13, 2001, attack on the Indian parliament by Muslim separatists.

The embassy staff in both capitals was also halved.

India and Pakistan have often expelled each other's diplomats on charges of spying or funding militants. They have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.


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