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ISLAMABAD, April 21: Pakistan on Thursday lodged a protest with the European Union, Belgium and the Netherlands against mistreatment of Senator Maulana Samiul Haq in Brussels. A Foreign Office press release said the ambassadors of Belgium, the EU and the Netherlands, which currently holds the EU presidency, were summoned to the Foreign Office and a strong protest was lodged against the April 19 incident whereby the European Parliament refused to meet Maulana Samiul Haq, who was part of the eight-member delegation of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, currently visiting Europe.

Maulana Sami was earlier stopped at the Brussels airport by the Belgian authorities for an hour and a half, and was later allowed to stay in Brussels for 24 hours after which the delegation left for London, said the press release.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Additional Secretary (Europe) Athar Mahmood made a strong demarche to the three ambassadors against the action of the Belgian authorities and the refusal of the members of the European Parliament to meet Maulana Sami.

The ambassadors were told that the Government of Pakistan had taken a strong exception to the treatment meted out to Senator Maulana Sami by the European Parliament.

He emphasized that the Pakistan government deeply regretted the European Parliament’s discriminatory behaviour towards Maulana Sami, who as an elected senator, leader of a major political party and member of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs merited due respect, especially when he was representing Pakistan in Brussels.

The spokesman said it was underlined that the media frenzy in Belgium over Senator Samiul Haq’s visit and the resultant refusal by the European Parliament to meet him were entirely uncalled for and totally unacceptable. As a result, the Pakistan delegation refused to hold meetings scheduled with the EU authorities, said the Foreign Office.

According to the Foreign Office, the Belgian ambassador was told that it was highly regretful that Maulana Sami was singled out for such treatment by the Belgian immigration authorities. The attitude of the Belgian government, the spokesman added, was contrary to the rule of law, human rights and accepted norms of diplomatic practice.

The spokesman said the ambassador of the Netherlands agreed that the incident was regrettable and stated that the EU would take serious note of the demarche of the government of Pakistan.

The spokesman said other members of the Senate delegation had also deeply regretted the unjust and unfair treatment meted out to their fellow parliamentarian that did not allow them to have a productive interaction with the European Parliament, which was the purpose of their visit.