With diplomats being pegged as spies and moles, hopes for a liberal peace are broken, and the realist balance of power is the only way we can exist. This has required that both countries withdraw more than a dozen diplomats from the other country. The decision was taken as the Indian government was allegedly ‘threatening and blackmailing’ Pakistani diplomats. India, on the other hand, said it would withdraw eight of its diplomats from Pakistan after they were identified in local media reports and were accused of being part of a spy network. While Indian diplomats in Pakistan are safe, hate for Pakistanis in India is at a fever pitch. In this context the Indian move to withdraw is more of a tit-for-tat action. While Pakistanis are coming home for their own safety, Indians are leaving because they might be spies, and any exposure of this would be an international humiliation for India.

Countries might choose to ignore this, but technically-speaking, each worker stationed at an embassy of a rival nation is (intentionally or unintentionally) helping out the intelligence services of their home country. The diplomatic mission of a state often functions as its intelligence headquarters for the rival nation as well. India cannot blatantly set-up businesses or other fronts as covers to their intelligence activities (as Pakistan cannot in India), which means that the diplomatic mission would be the ideal place to start gathering intel on one’s adversary. To pretend that the situation is anything else is just being obtuse for the sake of it.

But the question then remains, why did Pakistan wait for so long to reveal the identity of these agents? Diplomatic missions of foreign countries we have acrimonious relations with are obviously vetted thoroughly by the state. And Pakistani intelligence agencies are obviously consulted when this process is being carried out. It is hard to believe that the names were uncovered just yesterday, and all at once. This information was already known within the circles of power – either that, or both countries are just pointing fingers for no reason. How else could eight names be unearthed with immediate effect?

If there is an Indian network of spies present, the Foreign Ministry must sharpen its teeth and expose them. These claims usually just fizzle out after an accusation has been made. Unequivocal proof is necessary if we want international opinion to change. Without proof we either look like we are lying, or that we are too inefficient to expose criminals in our midst. If diplomacy continues to fail as such, we are left with only hard military options. Nobody wants to see either side use them.