New Delhi, Mar 13: The diplomatic tussle between India and Pakistan over membership of Indian diplomats for the prestigious Islamabad Club is turning into a major cause of strife between the two countries. It is learnt that Pakistan put Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria and other Indian diplomats’ application seeking membership of the Islamabad Club on hold to seek reciprocity for its diplomats in the Delhi Golf Club and Delhi Gymkhana.
Pakistan Interior Ministry blocked the clearance for membership of Indian diplomats after the Pakistan high commission in Delhi complained that clubs with similar status in the national capital of India were charging exorbitant rates for membership from Pakistani diplomats, reported Times of India. They also claimed that while Islamabad Club allowed entry to the entire families of Indian diplomats, their children were not allowed access to the clubs in Delhi.
In its formal communication to Islamabad, Pakistan high commission added that the Delhi Gymkhana and Golf Club, even if combined together, could not offer the facilities which Indian diplomats get at the Islamabad Club. In its response, India told Pakistan that Delhi Golf Club and Delhi Gymkhana are private clubs and the government cannot intervene to reduce the cost of their membership.
Islamabad Club is a circle of Pakistani elite and foreign diplomats and it’s customary for an ambassador or high commissioner to seek membership after landing in Pakistan’s capital. Pakistan’s interior ministry is yet to issue the no-objection certificate required for the membership given to Indian diplomats. Recently, the two countries accused each other of harassing their envoys.
According to Indian officials in Pakistan, ISI raided a residential complex under construction for Indian diplomats in Islamabad last month. On the other hand, Pakistan issued a demarche to India saying it was becoming difficult for its diplomats to function in Delhi.