Indian envoy apologizes after guests at Islamabad iftar party harassed

Islamabad: India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria offered a public apology after numerous Pakistanis trying to attend an iftar party hosted by him were harassed and forced to leave the venue.

“I want to apologize to all the friends who were subject to some extra scrutiny outside,” Bisaria said on Saturday, using diplomatic language. “Thank you so much. Many friends have been stopped outside.”

Bisaria later told a media outlet that the incident was counter to better relations between India and Pakistan.

The virtual sabotage of the Indian iftar party at Hotel Serena here was carried out by Pakistani security agencies including intelligence personnel not in uniform.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi were among those invited to the event but they skipped it.

Others who were invited included politicians, community leaders, heads of Sufi shrines, academics, writers and civil society activists.

As soon as the guests started arriving at the venue, they were stopped outside and prevented aggressively from going in by the Pakistani security agencies.

Pakistani security officials reportedly also telephoned members of the Karachi Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the Faisalabad Chambers of Commerce and the Lahore Chambers of Commerce not to attend the iftar party.

Some Pakistanis, however, made it to the event.

The Pakistani media did not report Saturday’s incident, which comes days after Islamabad accused Indian security personnel of obstructing Indians from attending an iftar party thrown by the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.

India-Pakistan relations have been badly hit after an Islamist group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 40 troopers in Jammu and Kashmir in February.