Wholeheartedly celebrating the very best of traditional Pakistani culture is not something one currently expects the Islamabad diplomatic set to do as, lets face it, they have so many reasons to actively dislike what is now listed as a 'hardship posting and, on a daily basis, are reminded that tight security is the watchword to exist by. It, therefore, came as an incredibly delightful shock to not only witness, but also to actively participate in a purely Italian marriage in which the entire emphasis was firmly placed on all 'good things Pakistani and in which the resident international set discarded all and any reservations, throwing themselves into the event with the type of unparalleled fervour one wishes that their widely disparate governments would display when talking peace and other global issues. This 'hands around the world extravaganza with a Pakistani theme was the brainchild of the groom, whom to save at least a modicum of embarrassment will not be named here and neither will his bride, who is so impressed with Pakistani cultural traditions that, with his brides agreement, he organised their wedding, down to the last minute detail, in fine, if distinctly unusual, style. The private house venue was decked out, from top to bottom, with marigolds and motia and the guests, having been warned, largely wore shalwar kameez of intricate design although some ladies did opt for extravagant saris and it really was heart-warming to see Italians, Romanians, Indians, Australians, British, French, Germans and many others, luxuriating in this, to them, unaccustomed finery which the Pakistani guests naturally took in their stride. The actual Christian wedding ceremony had, unknown to the majority of guests, taken place on the previous day, but this is really beside the point as the condensed tamasha was convincing in the extreme. A highly accomplished tabla player, firmly ensconced on a large upstairs terrace, accompanied by a harmonium player and a lady, who kindly explained the proceedings to the uninitiated when not singing traditional Punjabi wedding songs, beat out the rhythm as the beautifully apparelled bride was transported to a flower decorated, carved wooden marriage gadhi in a marigold and motia curtained dholi where, after a few moments respite, a procession of ladies followed bearing trays of mehndi surrounded by marigolds and floating candles and, after laying down their artfully arranged burdens, gracefully danced, sang and clapped around the deposited trays in awesome style. Guests were still absorbing this riveting sight when the bridegroom, wearing a handwork kurta shalwar, was escorted, an intricately embroidered cloth held above his head, in and taken to join his glowing bride on the gadhi where the ecstatic couple received a well deserved stream of congratulations before traditional Pakistani cuisine, from all corners of the country, was served downstairs and out on the lawn and which is where traditional Punjabi male musicians and dancers, as hired for countless wedding ceremonies, were ready, waiting and more than willing to put on a mind-boggling display and, eventually, convinced a few guests to join in with their energetic gyrations. This wildly exuberant fun was followed by an inside disco blasting out the latest take on subcontinental music and to which numerous guests, mostly but not all, belonging to the 'younger generation, danced the rest of the night away, while the security and police contingent stood firmly outside the main entrance gate, sleepily tapped their feet and waited to be dismissed. The reason for telling you about this extraordinary marriage ceremony is quite simple: Diverse people of diverse nationalities, totally devoid of government imposed barriers and stereotypical shenanigans, were able to meet, greet, dance, eat, chat, laugh and peacefully interact exactly as they chose and the harmony thus created promised to overflow into 'real life outside this gorgeously created 'stage. Rules, regulations and politics ceased to exist, friendships blossomed and international peace bloomed far more luxuriantly than is ever achieved during government sponsored initiatives and will, one hopes, endure, in some cases, for the lifetimes of the participants concerned and, let this point sink in and stay, this was an Italian initiative carried out with traditional Pakistani pizzazz Tempting as it is, especially for this particular columnist, to criticise the huge financial outlay such an event must surely have incurred - an outlay liable to be small when compared to some 'indigenous Pakistani weddings this season, as an exercise in the promotion of international peace combined with a much needed boost for the best that Pakistani culture has to offer, this innovative bride and groom must be well and truly applauded and the writer is more than happy to shout the first 'Hurrah The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Womans War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban. Email: zahrahnasir@hotmail.com