President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday went out of his way to make visiting Bihar Chief Minister feel at home by hosting a Diwali dinner for him; turning a conventional “call on” into a full-fledged meal at the eleventh hour.

As expected, news of his hosting a Diwali dinner for Mr. Kumar set off a debate on the significance of the gesture from the highest office of the land at a time when minorities are feeling particularly threatened across the country. In fact, the President this year used his traditional Diwali greetings to the Hindus to assert that these were more than just good wishes for the festival but a bid to partake in the celebrations also.

“We partake in Diwali celebrations also for promoting interfaith harmony as a means to fight religious apartheid and those who seek to impose their ideological agenda on the people,” Mr. Zardari said in his Diwali greetings.

For the Chief Minister and his delegation, Diwali in Pakistan was otherwise a day filled with meetings that included experience-sharing first with diplomats and opinion-makers and then with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf Pakistan. So, when the Diwali dinner at the Presidency was confirmed towards the latter half of the day, it came as a bonus for the Chief Minister's entourage.

(Imran Khan's party name has been corrected)

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