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‘Counter-productive for bilateral ties': Indian HC on ‘harassment' of guests invited to iftar

By Vishal S
|

New Delhi, June 02: The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has registered a strong protest against the harassment of guests invited for an Iftar party saying that it "not only violates basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilised behaviour."

Guests invited to Indian High Commission's Iftar party in Islamabad on Saturday faced "unprecedented harassment and intimidation" due to enhanced security checks by the Pakistani officials who stopped some invitees on one pretext or other, the Indian mission said on Sunday. The Indian High Commission sought "urgent" investigation into the matter.

File photo of Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria

Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria hosted the annual event on Saturday at Serena Hotel for which guests were invited from all over Pakistan.

"The guests faced unprecedented harassment and intimidation at the hands of security agencies," the Indian High Commission said in a statement. It said the guests who made to the venue from places as far as Lahore and Karachi were "intimidated and even physically stopped" from attending the party by Pakistani security forces, who had virtually laid the Serena hotel under siege.

"A concerted campaign was launched by Pakistan's security agencies in the days preceding the iftar function to reach out to the invitees to actively dissuade them from attending the event," it said.

The High Commission said security officials stationed on the main road outside the hotel "rudely rebuffed and intimidated" officers and diplomatic staff of the IHC who tried to ascertain from the security personnel the reason for the harassment of the guests.

"Some officials were jostled, pushed, abused and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases, mobile phone belonging to the officials were snatched away," it said.

Many guests from the Pakistan's diplomatic community were also subjected to harassment.

"In complete violation of diplomatic norms, a large Pakistani security detachment, equipped with forked lifts, was detailed outside Serena hotel to aggressively turn away Pakistani citizens," the Indian mission said, adding that in some cases, cars used by guests were lifted and removed using forklifts.

["Stupid tit for tat diplomacy", says Omar on harassment of guests at India HC's iftar in Islamabad]

"Stopping diplomats and officials of the High Commission of India in Pakistan from discharging their diplomatic functions by intimidation and coercion is entirely counter-productive for our bilateral relationship," the statement further said.

High Commissioner Bisaria in his brief address to the audience on Saturday said that some of the guests could not make to the party. "I want to apologize because some of you faced a lot of trouble to come here and some of our friends could not come," he said. Bisaria also said that people had come from Lahore and Karachi to attend the event and thanked them for coming.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan following the attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

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