Doorbell Diplomacy: India and Pakistan's ridiculous 'ring and run' harassment wins Ig Nobel Peace Prize
Ever been frustrated by a doorbell ringing? Diplomats in India and Pakistan seem to be. A strange story from behind closed doors of the two nations made headlines in 2018 and it seems to have paved the way for peace. Unbelievable, right? The nuclear-armed geopolitical rivals — who have fought three wars since the partition in 1947 — played the classic neighbor trick on each other to harass their senior diplomats.
Two years ago, news started doing rounds about a bizarre escalation of tension. A report by Economic Times at the time listed their tactics of harassment which included: "Ringing the doorbell in the middle of the night and running away. Obscene phone calls. Cutting off power and water supplies. Car chases, aggressive confrontations and children intimidated."
The allegations were detailed in an official complaint lodged by Pakistan that claimed its envoys were struggling to function in Delhi. Then, India’s ministry of foreign affairs said its officials too were facing harassment in Islamabad. TCA Rangachari, a retired Indian diplomat who served in Algeria, France and Pakistan, told The Guardian that the ding-dong tales were “neither new nor unusual”.
In a twist of fate, the Ig Nobel Peace Prize this year has been handed over to "the governments of India and Pakistan, for having their diplomats surreptitiously ring each other's doorbells in the middle of the night, and then run away before anyone had a chance to answer the door". Established in 1991, the trophies are a satirical or parody prize awarded to celebrate unusual or trivial achievements. Given out by the academic humor journal Annals of Improbable Research, they are meant to “first make people laugh, then make them think”. The name, of course, plays on the word ‘ignoble’.
Co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students and the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, the ceremony usually takes place at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre in September, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year it will be held online.
As per Daily Mail, the fiasco began when the bell of the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan was rung at 3 am, Bloomsberg correspondent Ian Marlow tweeted. "Since the Indian side felt this was done by Pakistan's security agencies, the doorbell of the Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi was also rung at 3 am a few days later," he said. Soon after, Pakistan’s high commission in New Delhi submitted a list of complaints about harassment to India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
"The total apathy and failure of the Indian Government to put a halt to these despicable incidents, sparing not even young children, indicates both a lack of capacity to protect foreign diplomats posted in India or a more reprehensible, complicit unwillingness to do so," the Pakistani foreign ministry said. Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal added that a naval adviser was "aggressively chased" while a political counselor was "evicted from a cab and harassed by unknown persons, who used abusive language, threatened him and filmed the whole incident with impunity".
Meanwhile, India’s foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said at a briefing: "At the same time, you know that our high commissioner in Islamabad is facing a litany of issues that have not been resolved for several months."
The childish dispute turned many heads and the subsequent Ig Nobel Peace Prize award sparked more memes online. "My favorite this year #IgNobelPrize@improbresearch the peace prize to: The governments of India and Pakistan, for having their diplomats surreptitiously ring each other’s doorbells in the middle of the night, and then run away before anyone had a chance to answer the door," one tweet read and another said, "The Ig Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the governments of India and Pakistan for having their diplomats ring each others doorbells and run away before anyone answered. It's things like this that restore a person's faith in this chaotic world."
My favourite this year #IgNobelPrize @improbresearch the peace prize to:— Nathan Lee (@NathanL39234694) September 18, 2020
The governments of India and Pakistan, for having their diplomats surreptitiously ring each other’s doorbells in the middle of the night, and then run away before anyone had a chance to answer the door.
The Ig Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the governments of India and Pakistan for having their diplomats ring each others doorbells and run away before anyone answered.— GraceP 🇪🇺️ #NotMovingOn. 3.5% ✊❤️✊ (@GraceP1971) September 17, 2020
It's things like this that restore a person's faith in this chaotic world.
As the incident gave rise to a lot of humor on the Internet, only time will tell if diplomats from both the countries will stop the ding-dong.