Incident of the Iftar party: India brutally criticizes the intimidation of guests by Pakistani officials

NEW DELHI: India on Sunday filed a strong protest with Pakistan about the great intimidation of the guests of the Iftar party of the High Commission of India in Islamabad, saying that it violated all notions of civilized behavior.

The disappointing chain of events of June 1 not only violates the basic rules of diplomatic conduct, but is against all notions of civilized behavior, said a statement from the Indian High Commission.

"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 for our bilateral relationship," the statement said.

The denouncement comes a day after guests invited to the Indian High Commission's Iftar party faced "unprecedented level of harassment" due to enhanced security checks by the Pakistan i officials who stopped some invitees on one pretext or other.

The security forces stationed on the main road outside the Hotel Serena grossly rejected and intimidated the officers and diplomatic staff of the Indian High Commission who tried to find out with the security personnel the reasons for the harassment of the guests, said the statement.

Some officials were pushed, pushed, mistreated and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases, mobile phones belonging to officials were kidnapped.

The statement said: The guests faced unprecedented harassment and intimidation by security agencies.

It said a concerted campaign was launched by Pakistan i security agencies in the days preceding the iftar to reach out to invitees to actively dissuade them from attending the event.

"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 iftar by Pakistan i security forces, who had virtually laid the Serena Hotel under siege.

In addition, many guests from the Islamabad-based diplomatic community were also subjected to harassment.

"In complete violation of diplomatic norms, a large Pakistan i security detachment, equipped with forklifts, was detailed outside Serena Hotel to aggressively turn away Pakistan i civilians.

"In some cases, cars used by invitees were lifted and removed using forklifts. The more than 300 esteemed Pakistan i guests who were turned away included MPs, government officials, media representatives, retired military officials and businessmen and retired diplomats, in addition to citizens from all walks of life."

The High Commission said India has lodged a protest with Pakistan over the gross intimidation of guests.

The mission urged the Pakistan i government to "urgently investigate these ugly events and share the results of the exercise with it.

"Further, we have emphasized to the government of Pakistan the need 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."

One journalist said he saw more security than usual, but those who had invitation cards and identity documents could attend.

My invitation card was verified and I was asked questions about the profession and the residence, and they allowed me to enter, he said.

An unprecedented harassment level at @serena_hotels Islamabad. # Embassy of India in case it happens and the police and the anti-terrorist force behave badly with anyone trying to enter the hotel. They shouted at me, my driver was mistreated. I'm sorry, it's not a right puncture. This was genuine harassment, said journalist Mehreen Zahra-Malik.

Another journalist, on condition of anonymity, told PTI that he did not attend because he was afraid to question him and verify his safety.

He also said there were reports that some guests were called by anonymous people and told not to attend the event.

Senior Pakistan People's Party leader Farhatullah Babar said that every gaze deflected towards odd visitors in hotel's lobby.

I went to Serena for the iftar organized by the Indian HC. The hotel looks like a barricade. I told him iftar was canceled. When they insisted, they told me to use another door. Another door was also closed and he was told to return to the front door again. Suspect, he tweeted.

Babar said that he somehow managed to attend the iftar of the Indian mission despite the efforts of the local authorities to detain the guests on one pretext or another.

Vice President of the national conference Omar Abdullah nicknamed the stupid tit incident for tat diplomacy.

“Stupid tit for tat diplomacy. It was stupid when we did it outside the Pakistan i High Commission in New Delhi & it's stupid when it's done outside our's in Islamabad. Now that it's 1-1 perhaps it's time to move on & stop this nonsense,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan following the attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

Tensions flared up between the two sides after a suicide bomber of Pakistan -based Jaish-e-Muhammed killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.