Woman Prof accuses 2 Pak embassy officers of sexual harassment

The two Pakistan embassy officers also offered her a hefty amount of money for writing propaganda against PM Modi & Indian government, she alleged.

New Delhi | Updated: 12 January, 2023 5:39 pm IST
Two officers allegedly sought sexual favours from an Indian woman professor in lieu of clearing her visa application.

A Punjab-based female professor has written to external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar seeking action against two officers of the Pakistan High Commission for allegedly seeking sexual favours in lieu of a visa, and trying to lure her into writing anti-India propaganda.

The professor, who teaches management at a university in Punjab, also alleged that the two Pakistani officers – who identified themselves as Asif and Tahir Abbas – also offered her a handsome amount of money for writing articles against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government over Kashmir.

In her letter, she also said that she was planning to visit Lahore as a tourist and to deliver a lecture at Abbottabad University in Pakistan. On March 15 last year, the visa officer denied her visa, citing a no-confidence motion moved against then-PM Imran Khan.

When she was leaving the high commission compound, Asif said he would arrange another visa interview with another officer and took her to a room where he asked some “uncomfortable” questions like: “How do I live without marriage? What do I do for my sexual desires?”

Narrating her ordeal, she said, “I began getting uncomfortable with the questions and tried to divert the topic. He still insisted on asking the same questions and began telling me of some sect in Muslims where they can marry for a few hours and it is basically for this purpose only.”

She further wrote: “He said, ‘it’s easy for us Muslims as we have a choice to marry 4 times. Even if we get bored by one, we can marry another. Does your religion allow the same? Does your religion allow extra-marital affairs? Do you have someone you can have sex with or no? How are you living comfortably without having a partner?”

“When I withdrew and got up from my seat implying that I am leaving, he said its time and left that room to call another guy who appeared and began asking the same questions albeit in a better tone and manner,” she said.

She further alleged that the second officer, Tahir Abbas, offered to sponsor her visit to Pakistan, which she turned down.

“He asked me whether I would be interested in writing an article (I had taken the Gulf Times newspaper along in which I had written a beautiful article on Pakistan of my experiences in my previous visit). He said that if I write on Kashmir or PM Modi, they would pay me very well. I refused as I had no such intention. They insisted and offered handsome remuneration too but I refused,” she said.

When the woman was finally leaving the office, Asif allegedly called her “a fast girl” despised by visa officers.

“This was like adding insult to injury. I asked him what he meant by fast and he said ‘girls like you who are very active trying to go alone to Pakistan without a man. You should get married to get some respect. This trend in you Indian girls who are accomplished in life and decide not to marry is not good at all’.”

“I felt utterly humiliated and violated with this experience. I also felt maybe I am some kind of a lesser mortal if I am not married,” she said.

On April 20, she received a message from Asif asking to reconsider her decision of writing the newspaper articles.

“He kept deleting the messages after I would read and reply. From bad Urdu he suddenly shifted to excellent English which is when I realized both he and Mr. Tahir Abbas were sitting together and messaging from the same phone,” she alleged.

When she enquired about the visa since the political situation in Pakistan had stabilised by that time, Abbas offered to host her for dinner and an overnight stay. However, she rejected the offer, saying she had to go back to Punjab from Delhi the same day.

Suddenly, he called her on WhatsApp and said: “See the visa officer will refuse the visa again this time. If I help you to get the visa, I shall have to tell the visa officer that I know you. In order to say I know you, I need to actually know you. Why don’t you come over and let’s have dinner together, you stay overnight and we shall grant visa the next day”.

“It was then that I realized that his offer is not an innocent one and he was offering sexual relations in return of visa. I got the courage to say no,” she continued.

In her letter to EAM Dr Jaishankar, she said she could not sleep and was extremely stressed out after the disturbing call. “This incident has left an indelible mark on my mind. It is utterly shameful that the officials of such rank sitting in such august offices behave in an uncalled-for manner,” she concluded.

There was no immediate reaction from the Pakistan High Commission.

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