Serena Hotel Islamabad, Pakistani security officials, Iftar party, Indian High Commission Iftar party, Ajay Bisaria, India in Pakistan, Iftar party, Indian High Commission Iftar party guests

Over 300 guests stopped, harassed by Pak security officials at Indian High Commission’s Iftar party, New Delhi protests

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Published: June 3, 2019 7:40:41 AM

The Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Saturday hosted Iftar party where guests were invited from all over Pakistan. However, over 300 guests were not allowed to attend the party by the Pakistani security personnel at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad.

India High Commission iftarFile pic of Indian High Commission Ajay Bisaria. Bisaria had on Saturday hosted Iftar in Islamabad but over 300 guests were prevented from attending the event by Pakistani officials.

India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after its guests were stopped from attending an Iftar party hosted by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Saturday. In a hard-hitting statement issued on Sunday, the Commission said that the disappointing chain of events of Saturday not only violate basic diplomatic norms but are against all notions of civilised behaviour. According to Indian High Commission, Pakistani security officials prevented over 300 guests including parliamentarians, government officials, retired diplomats, retired military officials, media officials and businessmen from attending the party at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad.

“Stopping diplomats and officials of the High Commission of India in Pakistan from discharging their diplomatic functions by intimidation and coercion is entirely counter-productive of our bilateral relationship,” it said.

It added that a concerted campaign was launched by security agencies in the last few days to actively dissuade invitees from attending the event. The Commission also noted that many guests from Karachi and Lahore couldn’t make it because were physically stopped by security officials. In some cases, invitees’ cars were lifted from outside the hotel using forklifts.

“The Pakistani 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 Iftar function by Pakistani security forces, who had virtually laid the Serena hotel under siege. Further, many guests from the diplomatic community based in Islamabad were also subjected to harassment,” it said.

When staff tried to ascertain from the Pakistani security officials the reasons for the harassment, they were rudely rebuffed. Some officials were also jostled, pushed, abused and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases, mobile phones belonging to officials were snatched away.

The Commission said that a formal request has been made to the Pakistani government to urgently investigate the chain of events that unfolded at the Serena Hotel on Islamabad. It said that the government needs to ensure that diplomats and officials of the High Commission of India are allowed to discharge their diplomatic functions without fear of coercion or harassment.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria hosted Iftar party on Saturday for which guests were invited from all over Pakistan. The guests faced an unprecedented level of harassment due to enhanced security checks. Pakistani officials also stopped some invitees from attending the event. Those attending the party said that additional security deployment was made around the hotel where they were invited by Ajay Bisaria.

Senior Pakistan People’s Party leader Farhatullah Babar tweeted that efforts were made by the local authorities to stop him and other invitees from attending the event, but somehow he managed to attend the Indian High Commission’s iftar

“Came to Serena for iftar hosted by Indian High Commission. 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,” he tweeted.

Earlier on Sunday, Indian High Commission Ajay Bisaria had apologised to the guests who were harassed or turned away from the Iftar party by Pakistani security officials. “We apologise to all our guests who were aggressively turned away from our Iftar party last evening,” he had said.

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