Atkins withdraws one employee; others are monitoring situation closely and keeping options open.
Pressure on UK firms to pull their staff out of India and Pakistan was stepped up this week, as foreign secretary Jack Straw again urged British nationals to leave.

Straw first advised expatriates to leave the subcontinent last week because of the danger of war, but his advice was, in the main, ignored. He repeated the guidance in a statement issued on Wednesday, although he noted that he did not believe it was inevitable that India and Pakistan would go to war.

Firms with Indian offices, such as Mott MacDonald, Halcrow and Scott Wilson, have so far refused to pull out any expatriate staff. However, Atkins has withdrawn one expatriate employee from its Bangalore office in the south of the country.

Philip Jeffery, human resources director at Mott MacDonald, said the company was monitoring the political situation in the region closely. It has 10 British staff in Pakistan and 20 in India.

Jeffery said: "We are of course very concerned for their well being. We are in constant touch with them, monitoring all available advice on a daily basis and heeding any on-the-ground concerns."

We are of course very concerned, and are in constant touch with staff

Philip Jeffery, Mott MacDonald

Halcrow and Scott Wilson said they had not pulled out staff, but this would change if the situation worsened.

Consultant WSP has two projects in India, including a road construction job near Calcutta. The firm said it was continuing to work on the project, which is due to be completed next year.

Firms with Indian operations unaffected by the crisis include contractor Skanska and QS Currie & Brown, both of whose divisions are staffed with Indian nationals. QS Gardiner & Theobald, which has an office in New Delhi, was unable to comment on plans for the office.

Straw's advice comes after continuing tension between the two countries over the region of Kashmir in the northern part of the subcontinent, which was handed over to India after partition. The two countries have fought two wars over the disputed territory, in 1947-8 and again in 1965.