‘Sexual Favours for Visa, Write-ups against PM Modi’: Punjab Professor’s Horrific Run-in with Pak Diplomats

Two Pakistan High Commission officials in Delhi have been accused by a woman from Punjab of harassing her mentally and asking for sexual favours in exchange for a quick visa to visit Pakistan.

The woman, who is a senior professor at a state university in Punjab, wanted to visit Pakistan where she was invited as a speaker by a varsity. In an exclusive conversation with CNN-News18, the woman who did not wish to be named, revealed some shocking and bizarre details of her ordeal with two senior officials of the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi.

In March 2022, the professor was invited by a university in Pakistan to deliver a lecture.

“I wanted to visit the Gurudwara Sahib and the monuments there. I wanted to deliver a lecture there. I was told Imran Khan is facing a no-confidence motion and the government is not stable. I was told to come in May after Eid. I was at the security check near the gate. I met another official there who said I can easily get a visa. I told him that I was asked to come in May, but he said he would give me a visa. I asked him to process my application,” the woman said.

Everything looked normal till this point. However, the meeting assuring an early approval of the visa soon drifted as the men allegedly sought favours from the woman. She was asked to wait for some time.

“Half an hour later, I was taken to another room. I was asked general questions about my application. I am a government employee. I had taken an NOC (no-objection certificate). I was told to wait for a visa officer, but the official continued the conversation. He asked me if I was married. I said I was not. He then asked me about my sex life. I found that uncomfortable. I thought he was a pervert and I ignored his questions. He then grabbed my hand. I stood up and told him to call the visa officer or let me go. He told me to wait,” she said.

The official continued unfazed and went on explaining to her about some Muslim sect which allows a brief marriage just for sex, said the woman. He asked her if extramarital relationships were allowed in her faith, and also boasted that he could marry as many women as he wanted.

“I kept ignoring what he was saying. I just wanted my visa application processed. He held my hand again. I got up and told him I wanted to leave,” said the woman.

After these sexual overtures were rejected by the woman, the High Commission official started talking about Khalistan and told her how “minorities are being oppressed in India”.

The woman said, “I told him we are happy in India; we are not oppressed. I told him we do not want Khalistan. He said Pakistan will form Khalistan before the Kashmir Resolution. He then got up and left. Then another official came. He asked me similar questions. His name is Tahir Abbas. The previous official’s name is Asif. They said it was not right to live without a man. To this, I did not reply.”

One of the officials also insisted that the woman should change her sponsor’s name for the visa and that he was willing to recommend her name for early approval of her visa application. “They told me that they could give me a visa, but they will have to sponsor me. I questioned them. I was being sponsored by a well-known Pakistani academic. They insisted that only their sponsorship could ensure a visa. I refused. They said the paperwork does not matter. I said I did not want to link my name to a Pakistani diplomat. They said it was not possible. After this, I left the embassy,” she said.

Some have asked why the woman didn’t report to the police against those officials but she maintains that she kept silent as she had no proof. “I could not take my phone inside,” she said.

A month later, the woman started getting WhatsApp messages from these officials. The two men were asking her to write articles against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in exchange for money, she said. “They were messaging and deleting them at the same time. I took screenshots of the messages. By the language of the texts, I think both were messaging me,” said the woman.

The professor complained about the officials through the Pakistan High Commission’s grievance portal.

Tahir Abbas called her again and asked her to come to Pakistan. He said he would take her to dinner. She refused and inquired about the visa application. “Tahir said only he can sponsor my visit. He told me he would help with the visa process if I stayed with him overnight,” said the professor.

The woman once again sent a complaint on the grievance portal of the Pakistan High Commission, for the mental harassment she was unnecessarily being put through.

“I thought the matter would go to the Pakistan High Commissioner, but nothing happened. I sent details to the foreign secretary of Pakistan. I tagged Bilawal Bhutto on Twitter,” she added.

Meanwhile reacting on the issue, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch in a statement said, “There is zero tolerance for misbehaviour and mistreatment of individuals visiting our Missions.” While raising questions on the timing and manner in which this issue has been raised, Baloch stated that the matter is being looked into. “We attach high importance to proper etiquette and behaviour towards all visa and consular applicants. All our diplomatic staff are under strict instructions to conduct themselves professionally. While we are looking into this case, we are surprised at its timing and the manner in which it has been raised. There are robust mechanisms in place for redressal of all public grievances”

The professor has also approached the concerned ministries in the Indian government.

“I sent a complaint to the MEA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the foreign secretary. I even sent the information to the NIA. The agency asked me to send the details, but said no action is possible.”

The woman did not complain to the police as she believed that these officials would get away due to diplomatic immunity.

Diplomats who represent their country abroad enjoy diplomatic immunity. This protects them against prosecution in the receiving state for the entire period in which they hold their diplomatic post. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations says the receiving state is not permitted to prosecute diplomats, and must protect them, along with their families and property. The main aim of the convention is to allow diplomats to carry out their work without hindrance in the receiving state.

However, this immunity is sometimes abused by diplomats. There have been instances in the past where diplomats have been found to be involved in illegal activities.

In June 2020, two officials at Pakistan High Commission in Delhi were found involved in espionage by Indian authorities. India declared them persona non grata and asked them to leave the country within 24 hours.

In February 2022, four officials of the Pakistan High Commission were declared persona non-grata after being found indulging in activities “incompatible with their official status”. The Government of Pakistan was asked to withdraw them within 48 hours.

CNN-News18 also tried to reach out to Pakistan High Commission officials for their response to the allegations made by the professor. The article will be updated upon receiving a reply.

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