Pakistan’s envoy to Italy accused of sexually harassing female officer


–Officer says repeated complaints about Nadeem Riaz’s behaviour were ignored by relevant authorities 


ISLAMABAD: A female official of the Foreign Affairs Ministry has moved the federal ombudsman’s office against Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy Nadeem Riaz, accusing him of sexual harassment.

Pakistan Today has learnt that a complaint has been registered with the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection against Harassment of Women at Work Place which accuses Nadeem Riaz of sexually harassing a female commercial attaché.

The complainant, through her counsel Mirza Waqas Qayyum, alleged that the ambassador directed her to travel with him to places unrelated to her job. Additionally, she was also directed to arrange residence near his own. The complainant further alleges that the ambassador had also directed her to race her car with his cycle till Vatican City along with other things, unethical in nature. The respondent allegedly expressed his desire to become the woman’s driver and asked her to share an exclusive nickname with him. Furthermore, the complainant was also asked to visit forests in Rome in his company.

The complaint further noted that the ambassador called the complainant in his office and relayed to her that he understands the nature and plight of being a single woman and invited her to visit him in his room anytime if she wishes to. Riaz also informed her that he is single and divorced and shared his divorce story to the complainant in order to gain sympathy, according to the complaint.

Recalling specific incidents of harassment, the complainant said that while preparing for an upcoming Mango Show, in the first week of August 2016, the respondent performed an indecent gesture in front of her, which was objected to. However, the complainant was sexually harassed time and again and the working environment was made hostile.

The complainant also accused Riaz of trying to get in uncomfortable proximity with the complainant while showing official presentations.

She narrated two incidents in which Riaz tried to get physically close to her: one before Trade Envoys Conference in Brussels from 23rd – 24th January, 2017 and the other before the Expo-Pakistan 2017 on 8th of November when the complainant went to show the presentation for Trade Officers’ Conference on 6th November, 2017 in the office of the respondent.

As a result of the above mentioned humiliating and hostile working environment, a number of complaints were sent to the Ministry of Commerce from May 2017 to June 2018 wherein all above issues were raised.

The female official alleged that the hostile circumstances compelled her to file complaints before the departmental authorities, but they all remained unresolved. A summary for recall of the complainant was managed from Rome, to be approved with the condition of consent of the complainant. However, the complainant was recalled without obtaining her consent.

The complainant’s PERs for the year 2016-17 and 2018 are still pending and the respondent is bent upon recording adverse entries because of the complaints submitted and her refusal to give into his unethical demands.

Taking notice of the complaint, Federal Ombudsman Secretariat has written a letter to the Foreign Affairs secretary to investigate the matter and report back immediately.

The matter is currently sub-judice with the Ombudsman. While the commerce division is responding to the ombudsman, the Foreign Office did not report the matter to the women harassment department.

The spokesperson of Ministry of Commerce said that the department did not receive any complaint of sexual harassment from their officer.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office spokesperson stated that a query has been sent to the admin department and that he will inform as soon as he gets a reply but no reply was received till the filing of this report.

Ambassador Nadeem Riaz remained unavailable for comment, however, his response will be duly added to the story when he gets back to us.


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