ISLAMABAD: Indian diplomats in Islamabad complained yesterday that Pakistan security officials had hassled guests invited to a Ramadan fast-breaking meal at a top hotel, going so far as to confiscate mobile phones and remove the vehicles of those attending. “Guests faced unprecedented harassment and intimidation at the hands of security agencies,” the Indian High Commission said in a statement. It said security officials had carried out a “concerted campaign” in the days leading up to the event to try to dissuade invited guests from attending an iftar, or fast-breaking meal, at the Serena hotel.
“Those guests who did reach the function venue, in some cases from places as far as Lahore and Karachi, were intimidated and physically stopped from attending,” the high commission said. “In some cases, cars used by invitees were lifted and removed using forklifts.” The high commission said more than 300 guests were turned away, including parliamentarians, diplomats, business people and members of the media. “Some officials were jostled, pushed, abused and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases mobile phones belonging to officials were snatched away,” it said. “We have requested the government of Pakistan to urgently investigate these ugly events and share the results of the exercise with the High Commission of India.”
The Pakistani foreign office did not immediately respond when contacted by AFP. Pakistan and India often accuse each other of harassing their diplomatic missions. The archrivals barely escaped a war just months ago when they launched cross-border air strikes at each other, but Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Indian rival Narendra Modi exchanged warm messages after Modi’s hawkish party won a new term in May.
Last month, Khan congratulated Modi on the win by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has long taken a strong anti-Pakistan stance. “Congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Khan tweeted. “Thank you PM @ImranKhanPTI. I warmly express my gratitude for your good wishes. I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region,” Modi responded, also on Twitter.
In February, India launched an airstrike inside Pakistan accusing its neighbor of harboring a group that staged a suicide bomb attack on Indian troops in Kashmir. Pakistan launched its own raid the next day amid fears of war, but tensions have since eased. Pakistan has restricted large swathes of airspace near its eastern border with India since the February clashes, effectively closing off major international flight routes in and out of Islamabad and Lahore, while also disrupting Indian flights headed west. – AFP