The historic Red Fort in Delhi was shown as Lahore’s Shalimar Garden at a banquet event of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Wednesday. A Pakistani official admitted that it was a “goof-up”. The 17th-century monument, from whose ramparts successive Indian Prime Ministers have delivered Independence Day speech, was on the tableau of Pakistan with the picture caption reading: “Fort and Shalimar Garden in Lahore (1981).” “This is a goof-up. Indians and Pakistanis are friends,” a Pakistani woman at the tableau who did not want to be identified, told IANS. The Indian flag fluttering at the monument was glaring. Red Fort was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 17th century. Indian diplomats were seen pointing the faux pas to their Pakistani counterparts at the event attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.A The banquet was organized at Versailles Hall in Legendale Hotel Beijing where SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov was present. India’s Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale and his Pakistani counterpart Masood Khalid exchanged pleasantries and spoke to each for a while. India and Pakistan joined the SCO in Astana during the annual summit, which was concluded last week, taking the number of members of the grouping to 8.
SCO officials were apologetic about the gaffe, saying that they failed to cross check the photos on display as this was the first event involving India and Pakistan. Tomorrow the SCO headquarters will raise the flags of India and Pakistan and Gokhale and Khalid will beat a drum, heralding the entry of their countries into the organisation.
The group is now comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia have an observer status in the grouping that is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO.