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Posted at: Jun 14, 2018, 11:16 AM; last updated: Jun 14, 2018, 5:59 PM (IST)

Pak High Commissioner not invited to Cong Iftar

Pak High Commissioner not invited to Cong Iftar
Congress president Rahul Gandhi interacts with diplomats during the Iftar party. PTI

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service 

New Delhi, June 14

A cautious Congress did not extend the Iftar invitation to the Pakistan High Commissioner to India this time, even as the rest of the neighbourhood was represented.

In all 48 diplomatic representatives of various countries attended the Iftar party which Congress president Rahul Gandhi hosted last evening at a local luxury hotel here.

The attendance of diplomats was the highest ever at any Iftar ever hosted by the party, sources said.

Invitations were not sent to Pakistan and Israel. The Palestinian Ambassador was very much there.

Asked why the Pakistan High Commissioner was left out of the guest list, a senior Congress leader said, “The Congress was careful with the invitations. Since India has not resumed the dialogue process with Pakistan, we did not invite them.” Also, only yesterday morning four BSF personnel were killed in unprovoked firing by Pakistan in the Samba sector.

The Congress may also have been careful about the Pakistan invitation after PM Narendra Modi talked of a private dinner attended by former PM Manmohan Singh and former Pakistan Foreign Secretary during the Gujarat Assembly elections.

The Iftar former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had hosted in 2015 had been attended by then Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit.

Rahul treaded the territory carefully lest the ruling BJP launched an offensive on the Congress on this issue. Yesterday’s Iftar was Rahul’s first as Congress chief.

The party also did not invite its suspended leader Mani Shankar Aiyar who had famously gone to Pakistan and told a gathering there to help the Congress dislodge PM Modi.

Among the diplomats who came were the High Commissioner of UK, the Ambassador of Russia, the Charge de  Affairs of China, France, Switzerland and Sweden, Minister Political from the US, High Commissioner of South Africa, Ambassadors of Mexico, Sudan, Angola, Somalia.

The Bangladesh High Commissioner and the Bhutanese Ambassador were there, so were the representatives of Central Asian countries, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

A total of 62 diplomats were invited but 48 attended.

Deputy Leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma was in-charge of invitations to the diplomatic corps.

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