Elite Pakistan club snubs Indian envoy amid rising hostilities

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NEW DELHI, Mar 02: The prestigious Islamabad Club, the favourite watering hole of the Pakistani elite and foreign diplomats, has put Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria’s membership on hold.

While Indian and Pakistani diplomats routinely, and privately of course, accuse each other of not showing even a modicum of civility in dealing with their respective missions, it’s rare for a high commissioner of either country to be treated like this.

The club is where all foreign envoys hang out in Islamabad and it’s customary for an ambassador or high commissioner to seek membership after landing in Pakistan’s capital.

Bisaria took over as Indian high commissioner late last year and applied for membership soon after. Not only has the club so far not approved his membership, it is also threatening, as TOI has learnt, to not renew the membership of other Indian diplomats.

While membership for other Indian diplomats, too, has been delayed in the recent past, this is the first time that the Islamabad Club has stalled the membership of the Indian high commissioner. Memberships for envoys are normally approved within weeks, if not days.

Islamabad Club describes itself as an exclusive club whose membership comprises government officials, diplomats and the elite of Islamabad. Sprawled over 346 acres next to the diplomatic enclave, the club is the favourite hangout of all top diplomats and Pakistan policy wonks.

Membership is not given gratis even to top bureaucrats and diplomats. This is the latest in a series of “hostilities Indian diplomats in Pakistan have been subjected to” at a time when the bilateral relationship is in a downward spiral, not least because of the daily ceasefire violations.

Both countries accuse each other of having committed a record number of ceasefire violations in 2017 and while India holds Pakistani forces solely responsible, Pakistan accuses India of not responding to its proposal for a political initiative to address the issue.

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