Pakistan on Thursday listed eight Indian High Commission staffers as members of New Delhi's intelligence agencies and accused them of indulging in "subversive activities", PTI reported. The announcement by Islamabad's Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria (pictured above) is being considered a response to India's decision to expel a Pakistani High Commission staffer, accused of espionage and compromising the security of four other staffers by listing them as spies.

Zakaria listed Anurag Singh, Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, Amerdeep Singh Bhatti, Dharmendra Sodhi, Vijay Kumar Verma, and Madhavan Nanda Kumar as India's Research and Analysis Wing operatives, while he accused Balbir Singh and Jayabalan Senthil of serving as Intelligence Bureau agents in Pakistan. The Pakistani official also alleged that Surjeet Singh, who was declared persona non-grata by Islamabad a few days ago, was an Intelligence Bureau operative. India had dismissed the expulsion as an "afterthought".

The Pakistani official alleged that the eight staffers were "supporting terrorist activities in Balochistan and Sindh, sabotaging the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, and fuelling instability in the two provinces”. The staffers were also held responsible for "handling factions of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and maligning Pakistan with propaganda on human rights issues".

However, India rejected the allegations, calling them "unsubstantiated and baseless". "The Indian government strongly protests the manner in which the names and photos of eight Indian officials, four of them holders of diplomatic passports, have been published," said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

On October 27, India had declared Pakistani High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar persona non-grata for indulging in espionage. He had claimed that an Indian Space Research Organisation official gave him "sensitive information". According to a Dawn report, Akhtar claimed that Indian authorities forced him to read a list of names disclosing Pakistani staffers as spies. Relations between India and Pakistan have worsened since the militant attack on the Army's camp in Kashmir's Uri sector on September 18.