Islamabad: India on Sunday strongly protested against the harassment of the guests invited at Iftar organised by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and sought an ‘urgent’ probe into the matter.
Briefing about the incident, the Indian High Commission said, “Guests invited to Indian High Commission’s Iftar party in Islamabad faced ‘unprecedented harassment and intimidation’ due to enhanced security checks by the Pakistani officials who stopped some invitees on one pretext or other.”
Adding, it said, “not only violated the basic norms of diplomatic conduct but was against all norms of civilized behaviour…And entirely counter-productive for our bilateral relationship”.
The annual event was hosted by Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Saturday at Serena Hotel for which guests were invited from all over Pakistan.
“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,” the High Commission said while claiming that 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 added.
Many guests from the Pakistan’s diplomatic community were also subjected to harassment. Over 300 Pakistani guests, including parliamentarians, government officials, media representatives, retired military officials, businessmen and retired diplomats, were prevented from attending the function, it said.
Meanwhile, those attending the event also said that additional security deployment was made around the luxury hotel.
Senior Pakistan People’s Party leader Farhatullah Babar said every gaze deflected towards odd visitors in hotel’s lobby. “Came to Serena for iftar hosted by Indian HC. Hotel seems barricaded. Told that iftar cancelled. When insisted, I was told to use other gate. Other gate also closed and told to go back to front gate again. What’s going on, something fishy,” he tweeted.
The ties between India and Pakistan turned sour following the attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016. Tensions further flared up between the two sides after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14.