Pakistan Must Stop ‘Protecting’ Offending Diplomats To Save Face

Pakistani diplomats have been found involved in offences ranging from spying, terror-funding to sexual assault.

Updated
Opinion
3 min read
With Pakistan still on the FATF’s grey list, the involvement of its diplomats in illegal activities reflects badly on the nation. Image of Pakistan flag used for representational purposes.
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Recently, two Pakistan High Commission officials in New Delhi were declared persona non grata and expelled from India, as they were caught spying. However, this isn't the first time that the diplomatic community of Pakistan has been found guilty of wrongdoing.

Diplomats, who are supposed to be representatives of their nations, have in fact contributed towards affecting Pakistan's reputation on foreign soil. These top officials of Pakistan have been involved in various criminal activities including sexual harassment, domestic violence, economic offences, and financing terror outfits, to name just a few.

Offences By Pakistani Diplomats Range From Terror-Funding to Sexual Assault

Pakistani diplomats have not only been accused of funding terrorists and supplying explosives, but have also been arrested by foreign nations for sexually assaulting their citizens. Waqar Ahmad, a foreign services officer of Pakistan was sacked from his post after he was found guilty of sexually harassing a Ukrainian national while posted in Kiev, Ukraine.

Another diplomat also brought shame to Pakistan when he was charged with domestic violence. Pakistan's permanent representative at the United Nations, Munir Akram, was charged with domestic violence in December 2002 in the US. It is believed that he was let off the hook as he enjoyed ‘diplomatic immunity’.

A Pakistani assistant visa officer, Mohammad Mazhar Khan, in the Bangladesh High Commission, was arrested in January 2015 for financial racketeering and his role in pushing fake Indian currency through the borders of Assam and West Bengal.

The country was forced to withdraw him after his role in terror-financing and currency forgery came to light. Allegations against him include financing of groups like Hizbut Tahir, Ansarullah Bangla Team, Jamaat- Shibir and Jamaat-e-Islami.

Some women officers of the Pakistani foreign services have also been found guilty. For example, Farina Arshad, second secretary at the Pakistan High Commission in Bangladesh, was withdrawn in 2015 after an operative of the terrorist organisation Jamaat-ul- Mujahideen admitted to having links with her.

Pakistan Still On FATF Grey List – Offences By Its Diplomats Could Worsen Situation

A visa counsellor at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Amir Zubair Siddiqui, was charged with conspiracy to ‘attack’ nuclear installations, defence establishments, the US consulate in Chennai, the Israeli consulate in Bengaluru and other ports.

Mohammed Arshad Cheema, the first secretary of the Pakistan High Commission in Kathmandu, Nepal, was arrested by the Kathmandu Police in April 2001 for carrying 16 kg RDX.

As per media reports, he also had links with the December 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines Flight 814.

With Pakistan still on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the involvement of Pakistani diplomats in such activities reflects poorly on the nation.

With a slew of such cases being reported from across the globe, Pakistani diplomats have effected a trust deficit against the nation. The nations of the world need to take a hard and serious look at the need to apprise Pakistan with the true meaning of ‘diplomatic immunity’ so that the country stops using it to shield ‘criminals’ in the guise of diplomats.

(Vivek Bansal is former media consultant to the Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. Currently working as a poll strategist and digital media professional, he is conducting research on various issues of national interest including defence, economy, climate change and infrastructure, etc. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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