Guests at Indian mission’s iftar in Islamabad harassed

Wednesday 05th June 2019 05:50 EDT

New Delhi: India and Pakistan were locked in another spat, with security agencies in Islamabad harassing guests at an iftar party hosted by Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria last week. Many of the guests were turned away from the venue by ISI men, who also tried to snatch the cameras of Indian officials seeking to record the harassment of guests.

The Indian high commission said in a statement that a strong protest had been lodged with the Pakistani government for “gross intimidation’’ of guests. Many of the Pakistani guests had their cars forklifted from the venue and were forced to leave as ISI laid siege to the fivestar hotel where the event was being held. The guests included parliamentarians, retired diplomats, former army officers and members of the diplomatic community in Islamabad.

This came days after Pakistan accused Indian authorities of having done the same with its Indian guests at their iftar at the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi. While Pakistan had not officially protested the alleged harassment, its officials seemed to have responded with what the Indian mission described as unprecedented harassment and intimidation of guests who sought entry into the hotel. Speaking at the event later, Bisaria apologised to the guests, some of whom had come from Lahore and Karachi, for the harassment caused by Pakistani officials.

Basic norms violated

Indian officials who confronted the ISI men were pushed around, abused and threatened with bodily harm, said the Indian statement on the “ugly’’ incident. “The disappointing chain of events of June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilised behaviour,’’ the statement issued by the Indian high commission said, adding that stopping Indian diplomats from discharging their duties by coercion was counterproductive to bilateral ties.

“Unprecedented level of harassment at Serena Hotels in Islamabad. India embassy iftaar happening and police and anti-terrorism force misbehaving with anyone trying to get into the hotel. Got screamed at, my driver abused. Sorry, not being an entitled prick. This was genuine harassment,” tweeted noted journalist Mehreen Zahra-Malik.

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