Furore in Pakistan over US Consulate iftar party

Punjab`s IG has sought explanation from officials on their presence at a US Consulate General Iftar.

Lahore: Pakistan`s Punjab province police chief has taken exception to senior officers attending an `iftar` dinner hosted by the US consulate here and issued them notices to provide explanations within three days or face action.

The officers who attended the event in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, believe Chief Minister Shahbaz Sahrif is behind the move to "get cheap popularity for his so-called anti-US stance”, sources said.

Sharif recently announced that his government would not accept development aid from the US for Punjab.

The PML-N leader`s stance was widely condemned by the Pakistan People`s Party, which is in power at the centre, and other parties. These parties described Sharif`s action as a hypocritical move aimed at hoodwinking the masses.

"Punjab Police Inspector General Javed Iqbal has directed officers to submit explanations within three days for attending the US Consulate official`s iftar dinner held on Wednesday," Nabeela Ghazanfar, the spokesperson for Iqbal, told reporters.

The police chief had directed officers to explain their position for visiting the US Consulate "without getting approval from authorities concerned", she said.

Quoting Iqbal, she said any action against the officers would be subject to their written replies.

A code of conduct issued by the provincial government does not allow any government official to attend functions or ceremonies at any foreign mission without permission, Ghazanfar said.

DIGs Khadim Hussain Bhatti and Arif Nawaz, SSPs Sheharyar and Muhammad Ali Nekokara and SPs Rommel Akram and Waqasul
Hassan were among the police officers who attended the iftar dinner at the residence of the Principal Officer of the US Consulate, Carmela Conroy.

One of the officers, who did not want to be named, said that such gatherings were held in the Islamic holy month of Ramzan and they were usually attended by government officers, including police officers.

He said he and the other officers would submit their explanations to the police chief as they had not committed any wrong.

"Is it not interesting we are being grilled for attending an iftar dinner which can even be attended in a private capacity?" he asked.

Another police officer said former police chiefs and senior police officers had attended similar functions at US missions in the past but no explanation had ever been sought from them.


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