Saturday Jun 12 2021
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Violent threats during protest outside Pakistan High Commission in London

The High Commission for Pakistan in London. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia

LONDON: The Pakistan High Commission (PHC) London has come under attack again within a month as a group of protestors threatened to burn down the building and take off Pakistan’s flag from the premises.

During a protest organised by a fringe group that call themselves the National Equality Pakistan outside the Pakistan High Commission against the alleged “imprisonment of political workers and human rights activists”, one protest leader, marching towards the entrance door, was recorded on video as saying: “We can burn down this building.”

In a series of tweets, NEP chairman Sajjad Raja claimed that the PHC called security to "disrupt the peaceful protest and the protesters were also threatened, harassed and verbally abused” but video footage, circulated by the protestors, suggests that some community members, who were visiting the premises for consular services, confronted the protestors.

He acknowledged that harsh words were used at the protest but said that the protestors were provoked. He said his party "doesn’t believe in violence".

Things got heated when a person in charge of security at the PHC asked the protestors to stay within the allotted place for the demonstration.

One visitor told this reporter that he was "threatened with violence" by three protest leaders.

“I was verbally abused and threatened with violence when I asked the protestors why they wanted to burn down the Pakistan High Commission building and Pakistani flag. I raised slogans in favour of Pakistan for the obvious reason that it’s my country’s flag that was under attack. I was there to get my identity papers done, I have nothing to do with the PHC staff,” he said.

Videos circulating on social media show that one protest leader threw his fist very close to the face of a visitor who raised a slogan in favour of Pakistan. The protesters left the demarcated area for protest and went across the road to hurl threats against visitors from the Pakistani community.

A source at the High Commission said that the threatening behaviour of the protestors obstructed their normal functioning.

The source said that police was initially present but then left, and after that incidents of harassment and threats began.

He shared: “PHC has reported [the matter] to the police and demanded strict action. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) is also being informed.”

This is the second time the PHC has faced violence. A month ago, a group of Afghan protestors threw stones and water bottles at the building.

The Metropolitan Police service said a complaint has been made.