Isloo mafia: pitfalls for diplomats (Part-II) By Ansar Mahmood Bhatti


I did not know at all my article about Isloo mafia will get such a huge response. Interestingly I got most of the messages and calls from those who usually enjoy the diplomatic hospitality without an invitation. Most of them also wanted to know the names of such people; probably in a bid to make sure that they are not the ones whom I had referred to in the last paragraph of my previous article. Anyhow, in general, response to my article was tremendous and encouraging therefore I thought I should pen down some more details. Before I dilate further upon the subject, let me clarify here that there are, of course, genuine business people who keep a close liaison with the diplomatic community. Likewise, there are genuine media people also who maintain a professional relationship with the diplomatic corps and vice versa, which is perfectly alright.

I am talking about those businessmen or businesswomen or media people who have nothing to do with these professions but even then present themselves as members of business community or media houses. Such people luckily or unluckily have good money, source or the means notwithstanding, to spend on cultivating their relations with the diplomats. Bringing out a diplomatic magazine or becoming part of any such publication seems to be there first and foremost task. They think through a diplomatic publication, relations can easily be cultivated. Such magazines are normally very colourful and voluminous. They enter the arena with a big bang; host grand inaugural ceremonies; try to invite the elite in order to give an impression as if they are going to set new trends in journalism. They do set new trends but unfortunately not the good ones. On achieving their immediate goals, they suddenly disappear from the scene.

Interestingly, when such mafia people have an inkling that they stand exposed and nobody would come to their functions on their invitations, they improvise.  They first identify diplomats who are either living alone, can accept some favors or are newly-wed. It does not matter whether the diplomat belongs to a big country or small. They would simply approach the said individual and offer to celebrate his or her birthday; national day; anniversary of bilateral relations or wedding anniversary etc. And the obvious prerequisite would be inviting other diplomats on his/her behalf. So an invitation is extended and diplomats come to attend the function. Only when they reach the venue would it become apparent that the actual hosts are different to those mentioned on the invitation card. What goes on during such functions is a different story altogether; badly managed; serious breaches of protocol and glitches galore.

In recent past we have seen a couple of envoys celebrating their weddings, ostensibly fully funded by their Pakistani ‘friends’. In such cases, a proper wedding environment is created; bride and groom are provided with costly wedding costumes and their guests are offered sumptuous lunch or dinner. This has actually happened in recent years. Now, what the investors got as a quid pro quo is no more a secret.

As I mentioned in the first part that there is no dearth of professional diplomats who would always go by the book when it comes to holding of various events. For instance, an Ambassador called me and informed that their national day is coming up however they would not celebrate it because they don’t have the budget. He also informed that he had got a number of lucrative offers, both in cash and kind. The good Ambassador, nevertheless, turned them down. A well considered decision indeed and worth-emulating precedent.

I am in receipt of some more startling details regarding such mafias and their operations, which I may share with readers in coming days. These mafias are operating in various garbs such as school owners; alcohol dealers; real estate agents; pseudo intellectuals and so on and so forth. Fabulous trails up yonder!