India lodges protest against harassment of guests at high commission's Iftar party by Pakistan agencies in Islamabad

Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jun 02, 2019, 06:11 PM(IST)

Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria. Photograph:( ANI )

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Those guests who did reach the venue, in some cases from as far as Karachi and Lahore, were intimidated and physically stopped from attending the function, the Indian High Commission said.

India has strongly protested against the harassment of guests invited for the Iftar organised by Indian high commission at a hotel in Islamabad and has asked the Pakistani government to investigate the "ugly" incident.

A number of guests who were invited by the Indian mission at the iftar at Islamabad's posh Serena hotel had to face considerable hardship as Pakistani security forces stopped them from attending the event. Some were physically manhandled, while others were simply told that the Iftar was cancelled. 

A release issued by the Indian mission in Islamabad said, “India has strongly protested to Pakistan gross intimation of guests invited for an Iftar event in Islamabad on Saturday...Guests faced unprecedented harassment and intimation at the hands of security agencies.”

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A large Pakistani security detachment, equipped with forklifts aggressively turned away Pakistani nationals who wanted to attend the event. The agency officials virtually laid a siege of the hotel.

Pakistan agencies even called up invitees and asked them not to attend the event. Many guests from the diplomatic community based in Islamabad were also subject to harassment.

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Pakistan agency officials also intimidated diplomatic staff of Indian mission who tried to ascertain from the security personnel why guests were being harassed. Some of the Indian officials were jostled and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases, mobile phones of Indian officials were snatched away.

The Indian mission said the "disappointing chain of events" on June 1 "not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilised behaviour" adding that “stopping diplomats of Indian mission from discharging diplomatic functions by intimidation and coercion is entirely counterproductive for our bilateral relationship".

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Press secretary of the former Pakistani President Asif Zardari Farhatullah Babar who was invited at the Iftar took to twitter and spoke about the harassment meted out to him.

He tweeted, "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.”

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A Pakistani journalist Mehreen Zahra-Malik who was there to pick someone tweeted, "Unprecedented level of harassment at @serena_hotels Islamabad. #India embassy iftaar happening & police & anti terrorism force misbehaving with anyone trying into get in the hotel. Got screamed at, my driver abused."

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WION's correspondent Anas Mallick who was at the Iftar also confirmed that he faced a lot of trouble while reaching to the venue. Before the Iftar, many invitees got calls asking not to attend the event.

Speaking at the event, Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria said, "I would apologise to all our friends who were subject to extra scrutiny."

More than 300 Pakistani guests including Parliamentarians, government officials, media representatives, retired military officials were invited to the dinner.

The tradition of Iftar by Indian mission was started more than 12 years ago by Sibi George, currently the envoy to Switzerland.

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