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March 19, 2018
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Ajay Bisaria throws ‘Holi reception’ at India House

Islamabad

March 19, 2018

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Islamabad: On Saturday it was after over a decade that this scribe got an opportunity to step into the ‘India House’, the official residence of the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan. And the occasion was a ‘musical evening and dinner reception’ to celebrate ‘Holi’, thrown by Ajay Bisaria, the new High Commissioner of India to Islamabad.

Amidst heightened tensions between the two countries it was a nice gesture on part of Mr Bisaria to invite people over to his official residence for the event. A local singer, Azeem Sabir, along with his troupe, was engaged to sing popular film songs and ‘ghazals’ from both side of the border to entertain the small audience.

Last time it was Shivshankar Menon, the then High Commissioner of India, who hosted a party at the premises, probably somewhere in 2005, and the place was brimming with guests, making it difficult to circulate. But last night there were few guests, enough to fill the seating arrangements made at the lawns of the ‘India House’.

Prominent among the guests were the Secretary-General of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), Farhatullah Babar, the former Chairman Senate, Waseem Sajjad, the legendary ‘Kathak dancer’ Indo Mitha and daughter Yamima Mitha.

Among the diplomats one could spot the Australian High Commissioner, the High Commissioner of Mauritius, the European Union envoy and those from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Egypt and the representative of the World Bank.

“No diplomacy or politics today please! Today we are celebrating ‘holi’ and we should talk about good things only,” High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria said. A natural charmer and such attentive listener, Mr Bisaria disarms the audience or opponent with a lingering seems to never leaving his face.

It was a bit chilly for the month of March outside on the lawns but guests were too busy enjoying the occasion to notice or complain about it. Azeem Sabir, the singer, kept the guests engaged with a well prepared list of songs and ‘ghazals’. The group also presented a few instrumental numbers, which were audibly and visibly appreciated.

JP Singh, the Deputy Indian High Commissioner, who probably is the only Indian diplomat immediately recognised a large number of Pakistanis because of his so frequent visits to the Foreign Office for receiving protests lodged by Pakistan over rampant ceasefire violations on the Line of Control in Kashmir and on Working Boundary, was also seen keeping the guests engaged. Tactfully avoiding the tricky, or to say, pointed questions with a broad smile and drink or a snack to offer in answer!

“We would have loved to bring over some leading singer from India to perform here today. Similarly, it would have been such a delight to get some chefs specialising in traditional Indian cuisine to fly down here and let our Pakistani friends have a true taste of Indian food. But that was not possible. May be sometime in future,” said another Indian diplomat while talking to the guests.

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