Rumours of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death and the recent judicial commission report on the 2013 elections dominated a farewell-cum-welcome reception in honour of the outgoing envoys from Egypt, the Czech Republic, Spain, and incoming trio from Brunei, Australia and Portugal on Wednesday.
Hosted by Argentine Ambassador Rodolfo Martin-Saravia in collaboration with Global Affairs Magazine, the dinner-cum-music evening was attended by diplomats, politicians, retired military officials and other notables of the capital.
A Pakistan Air Force legend lamented that despite the fact the commission noted that mistakes were made during the elections, none of them would be addressed since the core issue — direct rigging accusations — were unfounded, according to the report.
A local businessman, while speaking to The Express Tribune noted that as far as governance went, it had become clear that neither the political class nor the military had shown particular competence. He added that the little maturity that “old-school” politicians seemed to be developing had been drowned out by the new-school “street party organisers”.
Meanwhile, a noted retired general and a former ambassador discussed what the rumoured death of Mullah Omar would mean for Afghanistan and Pakistan, with both expressing cautious optimism.
Soon after, a politician well-versed in foreign affairs said that in policy terms, Omar was insignificant, and the establishments in either country would determine the direction of the uneasy alliance.
The audience was entertained by live violin and a tabla performance.
Guests were seated at tables named for various world capitals and cultural hubs, such as Buenos Aires, Islamabad, Lahore, Prague and Washington, who enjoyed a scrumptious set menu, opening with marinated king prawns, grilled vegetables and avocado salsa. The main course was beef fillet rolled in black peppers on a bed of pureed peas and mashed potatoes, topped off with truffle oil essence, while vanilla panna cotta with mango chutney and fruit compote was served as the dessert.
Ambassador Saravia, who is also dean of the diplomatic corps, gave a short speech in which he noted that the assembly was not just about goodbyes, but also welcomes.
The outgoing ambassadors kept their speeches relatively short, joking about the little time they had left in the country.
Egyptian ambassador Said Hindam shared his good experiences here, while Czech ambassador Miroslav Krenek noted that his luggage was ready as he “had to head out tonight”, as he thanked the assembly and those not present for good times during his tenure.
In a similar vein, Spanish ambassador Javier Carbajosa Sanchez kept his speech short and joked, “My flight is at 9am and I don’t want to keep talking till then.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2015.
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