The marvel that is modern-day racism comes disguised as an effort to 'protect' certain sensibilities. While 'rights of entry reserved' is a common enough sign to read, one restaurant smack in the middle of the capital, Islamabad, operates on a no-Pakistani-passports-please policy. The only way to cross the hallowed threshold is for the entrant to either be in possession of a foreign passport, or to be latched on to the coat-tails of someone who is. No Pakistanis are deemed safe to enter unaccompanied into La Maison, the restaurant that operates this policy.

Other than the fact that it is remarkable Pakistanis in their own country are treated as unwelcome in local establishments, what is even more surprising is that the justification offered is that the owner is “only” trying to protect local sensibilities. If the management, headed by a Mr Phillipe Lafourge, is desperately interested in protecting the religious purity of the belief of all Muslims, why not operate a ‘no-Muslims’ policy? Why a ‘no-Pakistanis, but Pakistanis-with-foreign-passports-are-very-welcome policy’? It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to, hold a Pakistani passport up at entry, and you’ll be tossed out on your ear.

Mr Lafourge’s response has been to mention the diplomatic enclave, saying strict entry requirements exist there too. Nice try. Surely the grave threat posed by clients unable to appreciate the Châteuaneuf-du-Pape, or asking for a steak to be cooked well-done (the horror), is a worry, but does it necessitate recreating the apartheid? The idea of a self-appointed bouncer, making judgement calls about who can dine at a restaurant, based on the colour of one’s passport is a fairly reprehensible and disgusting practice — even us savages with green passports can see that.

The restaurant must think about what the policy really implies; that a person with a foreign nationality somehow deserves to be served unquestioned, while Pakistanis are to be treated with caution, and only allowed entry with a foreign passport-holder as a guarantor. Meanwhile, it ought to be a worry for Islamabad authorities and CDA officials, that in Pakistan, it’s become Pakistanis who need a “He’s with me” sifarish from a foreigner to be served at local establishments? The only thing a passport is valid for is to determine one’s nationality, not to form preconceptions from that knowledge. Either change the policy, or shut the place down. Pakistan is for Pakistanis. The La Maison management needs to be reminded perhaps, that they are guests, no longer masters in Pakistan. The ban on Pakistanis is unacceptable.