INTERNATIONAL

India objects to security lapse outside mission in Islamabad

Nirupama Subramanian



Group gathered for demonstration over Kashmir

Policemen, TV crews accompanied the protesters



ISLAMABAD: With rising security concerns after Sunday’s suicide bombing in the capital and the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul the following day, the Indian High Commission here has complained to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry that police allowed a group of protesters to gather outside its gates for a demonstration over Kashmir on Monday without informing it.

In a note verbale to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry, the Indian High Commission said it was not informed in advance by the authorities about the protest.

The Indian High Commission is located in the high security Diplomatic Enclave. Notwithstanding the tight security at its gates after Sunday’s suicide attack near the Lal Masjid, the security personnel guarding the gates to the compound allowed the demonstrators to walk in.

The Diplomatic Enclave also houses the U.S. Embassy, the British Embassy and scores of others.

After the recent bombing at the Danish Embassy located in a residential area of the capital, the Pakistan government urged all diplomatic missions to relocate to the Diplomatic Enclave.

A large group of policemen in riot gear and several television crews accompanied the protesters, indicating that the authorities did have prior information about the rally.

The protesters staged a sit-in on the road outside the Indian High Commission, demanding an end to Indian “occupation” of Kashmir.

The Indian High Commission is the only place inside the tightly-guarded Diplomatic Enclave where protests are permitted. The anti-India protests are usually organised by Kashmiri groups and are held on the Indian Independence day or on the Republic Day.

Indian spokesman Sanjay Mathur said the practice was for the police to inform the Indian High Commission in advance about such protests to enable it to take sufficient security precautions. But this practice was not followed on Monday, he said.

‘Surprising’

Mr. Mathur said it was surprising that the protesters had been allowed to get past the high-security gates.

Following the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the Indian High Commission had instructed its officials and staff to be extra-cautious and be aware of their surroundings at all times, Mr. Mathur said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi condemned the Kabul bomb blast which resulted in the loss of precious lives.

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