March 23, 2018

Harassment of envoys in Pakistan on government radar

13 March 2018, 09:58 | Taylor George

Indian high commission officials and their families have also been targets of harassment in Islamabad especially in the past one year

Indian high commission officials and their families have also been targets of harassment in Islamabad especially in the past one year

It is learnt that Pakistan put Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria and other Indian diplomats' application seeking membership of the Islamabad Club on hold to seek reciprocity for its diplomats in the Delhi Golf Club and Delhi Gymkhana.

Pakistan issued a demarche to India, media reported on Monday, in which Pakistan alleges that it was becoming hard for its diplomats to function in Delhi due to harassment and intimidation.

Sources also said: "India makes all efforts to provide a safe, secure and hospitable environment for diplomats to work in".

India on Sunday said it would investigate Pakistan's charge that its diplomats posted in New Delhi were facing harassment even as it levelled serious allegations against Islamabad for harassing Indian diplomats posted at the High Commission in Pakistan.

Sources also said that on February 16, the Indian High Commissioner met the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan to lodge a strong protest against multiple acts of hooliganism against Indian properties and personnel. However, the power supply was reportedly not restored for over two weeks.

"More troublingly, over the last few months, several High Commission staff have been severely harassed and intimidated". An official's home was broken into, laptop stolen. "It is becoming hard for the Pakistani diplomats posted in India to keep their families with them due to increase in harassment incidents", the daily quoted an unidentified official as saying. Reportedly, Pakistani agencies had recently stopped Bisaria's vehicle in the middle of a busy road to prevent him from attending a lunch the Bohra community had hosted in Karachi.

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According to sources, aggressive surveillance, violation of physical space and tailing of officers in unsafe proximity has become a "perennial issue". They further allege that the diplomats stationed in Islamabad have been receiving obscene phone calls and messages. "Most families have returned to India and children have been withdrawn from schools", he said."This is nothing new", a senior diplomat told The New Indian Express.

Besides, the Islamabad Club is learnt to have stalled the membership of Bisaria, who was posted as High Commissioner past year, without assigning any reason.

"Even children going to school and women have been chased by Indian security personnel", the Pakistani source said. They said that all decisions about missions are taken on the basis of reciprocity.

"The Indian government must ensure protection of Pakistani diplomats", he said.

Indian diplomats in Pakistan have also faced similar challenges, according to another person in the report.

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