India alleges diplomats, embassy guests ‘harassed’ by Pakistani security services


ISLAMABAD: India has accused Pakistani security services of “widespread harassment” outside an event hosted by the Indian embassy in Islamabad on Saturday, saying that “hundreds” of guests were turned away and some of New Delhi’s diplomats were “threatened”.

The allegations came after similar reports a few days earlier from New Delhi, where guests arriving at a High Commission of Pakistan event were allegedly harassed by Indian security personnel.

Similar harassment by Indian security officials had also been reported amidst Pakistan Day celebrations hosted by the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi in March.

According to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistani security agencies “even used a forklift truck to remove the cars of some attendees” of the event. India said about 300 guests in total were turned away from attending Saturday’s iftar dinner at the hotel.

The Indian High Commission, asking Pakistan to investigate, alleged that some of its officials and diplomats were “jostled, pushed, abused, aggressively threatened with bodily harm” and in some cases had their phones “snatched” by Pakistani security officials.

“The disappointing chain of events on June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilised behavior,” the Indian High Commission said in a statement.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Referring to the harassment of the guests of the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi last week, Indian publication The Tribune said: “There may be prospects of a thaw in Indo-Pak relations, but ties at the ground level continue to be hostile, as the latest incident that occurred outside the Pakistan High Commission shows.”

Pakistan is understood to have decided to protest against the harassment, it noted.

According to reports from New Delhi, videos had emerged of armed Indian security personnel rummaging in personal vehicles and plainclothes men asking invitees to produce identity cards that were then photographed. What was presumably another security agency was also seen writing down I-card numbers of the invitees.

Indian media had already speculated that the harassment of the High Commission of Pakistan’s guests would “cast a shadow” on the iftar scheduled by Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria on Friday, “as security agencies of both countries reciprocate will fully measure”.

Historically tense relations between India and Pakistan plunged to dangerous levels earlier this year when the two sides carried out aerial bombing missions against each other, and even briefly fought an aerial dogfight over Kashmir skies.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi afterward swept to victory in the elections on a tough anti-Pakistan platform.

Modi decided not to invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to last week’s inauguration ceremony, in contrast to 2014, when the Indian leader had invited then-premier Nawaz Sharif to his first inauguration.