Guests allege harassment due to enhanced security checks by Pakistani officials

India on Sunday strongly condemned the alleged harassment of the guests invited to Indian High Commission's Iftar party in Islamabad due to enhanced security checks by Pakistani officials.

Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria hosted the annual event at Serena Hotel on Saturday evening, for which guests were invited from all over Pakistan. Those attending the event said that additional security deployment was made around the luxury hotel. According to reports, Pakistani officials stopped some invitees on one pretext or other.

"The disappointing chain of events on June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilised behaviour," a statement from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad said.

"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.

A journalist told PTI that he saw more than usual security presence but those having invitation cards and identity documents were allowed to attend. However, another journalist, on condition of anonymity, told the agency that he did not attend as he feared about questioning and security checks. He said there were reports that some invitees were called by anonymous callers and told not to attend the event.

High Commissioner Bisaria in his brief address to the audience said that some of the guests could not make to the party. "I want to apologise because some of you faced a lot of trouble to come here and some of our friends could not come," he said.

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.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India.