Islamabad/New Delhi: The NDA government has decided not to rest on its laurels. Nor is it inclined to overlook Pakistani transgressions, now that the elections are over. The government on Sunday issued a strongly-worded statement to protest the "gross intimidation of guests" called to an Iftar event hosted by the Indian mission in Islamabad on Saturday.(On Saturday evening, Pakistani officials had surrounded Hotel Serena, the venue of the party hosted by the Indian High Commission, and forced hundreds of guests to turn back. This is not the first time Indian officials had faced harassment in the neighbouring country.)A letter released by the High Commission of India on Sunday criticised the "concerted campaign by Pakistan's security agencies" which prevented the commission from hosting the evening fast-breaking meal and said it was in violation of "basic norms of diplomatic conduct" and "all notions of civilized behaviour".
The letter also called on the government of Pakistan to "urgently investigate these ugly events" and share the results of the investigation with the High Commission.Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria had hosted the annual event at Serena Hotel for which guests were invited from all over Pakistan. In video footage of the incident, Pakistan's security forces can be seen stopping and turning away a black sedan and aggressively confronting guests.
The Pakistani security forces stationed on the main road outside the hotel "rudely rebuffed and intimidated" officers and diplomatic staff of the mission who tried to ascertain from the security personnel the reasons for the harassment of the Pakistani guests, the High Commission said. Some officials were "jostled, pushed, abused and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases, mobile phones belonging to officials were snatched away", the high commission added.Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi were among those invited but both leaders opted to skip the event. Other invitees included politicians, community leaders, heads of Sufi shrines, academics, writers and civil society activists. In the letter from the High Commission, Bisaria also said "intimidation and coercion is entirely counter-productive for our bilateral relationship".
Earlier this week, the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi also hosted an Iftar dinner, where several public personalities including writers, artists and Pakistani students had attended. A journalist, on condition of anonymity, told PTI that there were reports that some invitees were called by anonymous callers and told not to attend the event.
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.PM Modi recently left out Pakistani premier Imran Khan out of the invitees to the oath at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Though Islamabad had played down the exclusion – even as all other neighbours were extended an invite by New Delhi – it seems there is considerable heartburn in the Pakistan.