New Delhi: Amid mounting pressure from India, Pakistan is understood to have quietly withdrawn its official from its High Commission in Colombo following an allegation against him that he was involved in conspiracy to target the US and Israel consulates in south India at ISI’s behest.
Counselor (Visa) Amir Zubair Siddiqui had been withdrawn even before NIA’s request under Mutual Assistance Legal Treaty (MLAT) reached Colombo as his presence had become untenable to his diplomatic duties, officials here said. Pakistan, which has been on the back foot, maintained that Siddiqui’s tenure had got completed in Sri Lanka and he has since returned to Islamabad.
Press Attache at the Pakistani High Commission here Muhammad Daud Ehtisham was approached by PTI through e-mail for his comment, but he did not reply. Repeated calls and SMS on his mobile also went unanswered. He was, however, quoted in a Sri Lankan magazine as saying “…This officer (Siddiqui) is a very much respected officer and he completed his tenure in Sri Lanka without any incident.”
India has been collaborating with Sri Lankan authorities after Malaysia had unraveled a conspiracy allegedly hatched by some Lankan nationals to conduct reconnaissance of the US Consulate in Chennai and Israeli Consulate in Bangalore and carry out a terror strike.
NIA took over the case last month after it was registered by the Tamil Nadu Police. A Sri Lankan national — Sakir Hussain — was arrested after a tip off from the Intelligence Bureau as the accused had entered India allegedly to carry out reconnaissance of the US Consulate in Chennai and Israeli Consulate in Bangalore.
Siddiqui is not new for the Intelligence Bureau as his name had cropped earlier in 2012-13 when security agencies picked up one Tameem Ansari, a frequent flier from Trichy to Colombo. Ansari was arrested after six months of surveillance in 2012 and this was conveyed to Sri Lanka last year.
Under the MLAT, signed in 2010, both the countries are required to provide assistance in locating and identifying persons and objects; taking evidence and obtaining statements; authorising presence of persons from the requesting state at the execution of requests; facilitating the appearance of witnesses or the assistance of persons in investigations