All is not well with Indo-Pak ties; invitees to Pak mission harassed

Sandeep Dikshit
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 29

There may be prospects of a thaw in the Indo-Pak relations but ties at the ground level continue to be hostile as the latest incident that occurred outside the Pakistan High Commission on Tuesday shows.

Pakistan is understood to have decided to protest against the harassment of guests invited for Iftaar at the High Commission on Tuesday evening.

Videos have emerged of armed security personnel rummaging in personal vehicles and plainclothes men asking invitees to produce identity cards that were then photographed while those of presumably another security agency were seen writing down I-card numbers of the invitees.

The harassment may cast a shadow on the Iftaar scheduled by Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria on Friday as security agencies of both countries reciprocate will full measure.

The close questioning of invitees, an aggressive search of some of the cars and exhortations by uniformed and plainsclothes security personnel was a repeat of the intimidation on Pakistan Day celebrations at the same venue in March. At that time, security personnel were heard asking invitees to join the Indian government in boycotting the Pakistan Day celebrations.

“We have decided on a full court press [against Pakistan],” said an intelligence official while declining to comment on the incident.

The past years of acrimony have seen diplomats of both sides being harassed by security agencies of the other side. In India, Pakistan has claimed that even cars of school-going children of diplomats have not been spared by Indian security agencies.

In India’s case, the latest harassment took place last month when two of its diplomats were locked up in a room for over 20 minutes at Gurdwara Sacha Sauda near Lahore. India sent a note verbale last month protesting against the harassment. Pakistan is likely to send a note verbale on the Iftaar event.

At the apex level, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had sent a congratulatory message to PM Modi that was followed by a phone call. Pakistan, which has shut its airspace to all flights to and from India, made an exception for External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who was on way to Bishkek for a multi-nation meeting of Foreign Ministers. However, civility is yet to return to the Indo-Pak ties on the ground.

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