Banquet diplomacy: Uzbeks win over PM’s team with ‘Lathay di chadar’

Published: March 28, 2011
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Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani meeting with his Uzbek counterpart Shavkot Mirziyoyev in Tashkent. PHOTO: SANA/FILE

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani meeting with his Uzbek counterpart Shavkot Mirziyoyev in Tashkent. PHOTO: SANA/FILE

TASHKENT: 

At first the Pakistani officials clapped politely as Uzbek singers sang traditional Makom folk music. They listened quietly as Munojat Yulchieva, who has the official title of People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, sang haunting classical pieces.

And then they heard ‘Lathay di chadar’; the diplomatic masks dropped and the Pakistani entourage began hooting in excitement. A smile even spread across Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s face as the celebrated Uzbek vocalist Munira Mukhamedova, dressed in a turquoise Peshawari outfit embellished with mirrors, sang the famous Punjabi song, giving the prime minister and his delegation a taste of home.

The Uzbek government pulled out all the stops for the prime minister and other Pakistani officials at a state banquet and reception hosted by Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev here at the Hotel Intercontinental on March 24.

The night began with a concert celebrating Uzbekistan’s musical traditions, old and new. Then came a seven-course meal, accompanied by continuing performances by dancers and musicians. The waiters serving the food went from table to table in synch, seemingly as choreographed as the dancers.

Avazi Tulsunov, who supervised the banquet, told The Express Tribune that it took a whole day to prepare the elaborate meal. Special ingredients and fresh produce were especially brought, on the Uzbek prime minister’s instructions, from Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand, he said.

The seven-course menu included red caviar with butter, an assortment of cold meat cuts, a fish platter, a cheese platter, salads, pickled vegetables, mezzeh, mini fish shashlik served with perch fish and prawns, cream of spinach soup, special Uzbek plov and a croquant parfait with sliced seasonal fruits as dessert.

“It was a great experience and an honour for us to cook for the prime minister of Pakistan,” Tulsunov said.

Mohammad Waheedul Hasan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the prime minister and his delegation got special treatment. “The prime minister of Uzbekistan left all his other engagements and was committed to Prime Minister Gilani throughout his trip here. The Uzbek government has gone out of its way to show their gratitude to Pakistan,” Hasan said.

At the end, after posing for pictures, Gilani thanked the performers for an unforgettable night. He especially appreciated the Punjabi folk song. According to Tulsunov, this was the best such event for three years.

The Pakistan entourage included ministers Hina Rabbani Khar, Nawabzada Mir Israrullah Khan Zehri and Naveed Qamar, officials from the Pakistan embassy and the Foreign Office, and journalists.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • advi
    Mar 28, 2011 - 2:25PM

    Keep a few dozen Uzbek terrorists in Pakistan and you will be treated as a King in uzbekistan, mr PM!Recommend

  • optional
    Mar 28, 2011 - 4:56PM

    Instead of combating drug cartels and extremism they are having fun in a hotel. And who cares what they ate during the day? Were any treaties signed?Recommend

  • Khalid Imtiaz
    Mar 28, 2011 - 8:27PM

    This must be understood that our current government officials are very fond of Taoos o Rabab. (Dancing & Singing)and this tour seem to be an attempt to escape the rigours of governance and to spend a couple of relaxed days away from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2011 - 11:19PM

    This tour is an attempt to dislodge the progress of relations between Pakistan and Tajikistan after the visit of Tajikistan President to Pakistan in March 2011. Uzbekistan has a record of jailing Pakistanis with out any recourse to law, recruiting Pakistanis living in Uzbekistan to work for Uzbekistan Notorious intelligence agency SnB. Uzbek government has no value and previous regard of honoring international agreements. Now they are offering 1 million bales, throwing charms at Pakistani delegation, offering financial and technological help for the constructing dams in Swat. They only want to isolate Tajikistan so that Pakistan may not sign the contract for the purchase of Electricity produced in Rogun Dam. What Uzbekistan has Done to Pakistanis read the story and you will understand. http://www.harleytourism.com/haroonchoudhry.htmlRecommend

  • Mar 31, 2011 - 3:27AM

    I guess this lavish hospitality was all about signing the deal to get Pakistan to buy 1m bales of cotton from Uzbekistan. But the cotton in Uzbekistan is harvested with forced adult and child labor, despite Uzbekistan’s recent commitments to the ILO conventions, and the meager food they eat in the field camps is nothing like this banquet:

    http://www.cottoncampaign.org/2011/03/30/after-lavish-banquet-uzbekistan-signs-deal-with-pakistan-for-1m-bales-of-cotton/

    It’s a tragedy that Pakistan has so suffered from the floods and lost people and business, and the urgency for the purchase from Uzbekistan is totally understandable. But perhaps Pakistan can raise with Uzbekistan the issue of complying with the ILO, letting in an ILO team to inspect the fields, and ending the practice of exploiting children in the harvest.Recommend

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