| Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey in Islamabad. (AFP)
Islamabad, May 6: Switzerland has closed the visa section of its embassy in Pakistan after some employees were accused of sexual harassment, Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said today.
A court has summoned the Swiss ambassador to Pakistan, two diplomats and a local employee Asher Francis on May 11 for the harassment of two Pakistani women.
The summons were sent after Ume Salma, her husband Mian Raza Saleem and mother Waseem Naz filed a case against the Swiss embassy officials for ruining their reputation, tampering with their passports and cancelling their multiple visas.
Asher Francis and a Pakistani visa assistant, who later fled to London, allegedly demanded sexual favours from the two women in exchange for visas. After the women refused, Francis and his assistant not only harassed them but also tampered with their passports.
In Islamabad, Micheline Calmy-Rey said: “We are compelled to do so following complaints of maltreatment and harassment of visa applicants and alleged involvement of some of the employees in human trafficking.”
Calmy-Rey said there were doubts that the embassy had might have been targeted by a criminal network, which was also engaged in human trafficking, adding that this not only damaged reputation of her country but also acted against those Pakistanis who wished to travel to Switzerland. The English-language daily, The News, reported that the embassy officials invoked the jurisdiction of the court after citing the immunity enjoyed by diplomats.
“This humiliating incident has ruined the social lives of my kids, who were shocked to see officials investigating me on false charges of Swiss embassy officials for a year and they even stopped going to school because of social pressure,” the paper quoted Salma as saying in her petition before the court.
The court of judge Muhammad Amin Shahzad issued four separate notices to the Swiss ambassador, deputy head of the mission Tim Enderlain, first secretary Rudolf Areggar and Asher Francis to appear before the court or a one-sided verdict would be announced.
A defiant Salma decided to take on the Swiss ambassador after facing a probe by the Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan for a year.
Salma said the guilty officials had implicated her in the false case due to which she suffered humiliation.