The Irrawaddy

Myanmar Embassy in Pakistan Undergoes Emergency Security Upgrade

Demonstrators try to break through police lines as they protest against Myanmar's persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Islamabad, Pakistan September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz - RC1FFBB510E0

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar’s Embassy in Pakistan has spent hundreds of millions of kyats on tightened security measures amid reports that the site has been targeted by terrorists due to the Rakhine issue.

The embassy has spent 319.66 million kyats, drawn from presidential emergency funds, to improve security amid the terror threat, according to Union Minister for Cooperation U Kyaw Tin.

Rallies against the Myanmar government’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims were held in several places in Pakistan in the first week of September after the Pakistani Foreign Ministry summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to protest alleged human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims.

At one of the rallies, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital Islamabad and attempted to reach the Myanmar Embassy in the city’s diplomatic zone, but were stopped by shipping containers placed across key streets.

Pakistan’s national security adviser had informed the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs about a possible terror attack, U Kyaw Tin said during Friday’s parliamentary session.

“The National Counter Terrorism Authority of Pakistan told us that there could be terror attacks on our embassy,” the minister said.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, host nations are responsible for providing security for foreign diplomats. The Myanmar Embassy in Islamabad has negotiated security measures to protect embassy staff with Pakistan’s diplomatic police force, the minister added.

“The Pakistani police said they would make security arrangements and asked the Myanmar Embassy to make necessary alterations to its buildings and install the necessary equipment,” the minister explained.

The Myanmar Embassy submitted to the Union government a detailed list of needed security measures, such as increasing the height of its walls and fitting a high-security gate. However, the Foreign Ministry has no funds for the security upgrade in its 2017-18 fiscal budget, so the money was allocated from presidential emergency funds in March.

Security will be improved over the next six months, the minister said.

“Host countries have a responsibility to provide security for foreign embassies according to international laws. But ultimately we must ensure security ourselves,” said Buthidaung Township lawmaker U Aung Thaung Shwe.

According to the United Nations, some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine State after an attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on police outposts in Maungdaw in August prompted counter-insurgency operations by the Myanmar Army.

When communal violence first broke out in northern Rakhine State in 2012, the Taliban demanded that the Pakistani government close the Myanmar Embassy.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.