The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday rejected reports that the government had gifted Pakistani mangoes to a number of foreign dignitaries last week as "factually incorrect and misleading", saying the process for dispatching the much sought-after fruit was still underway.
“We have seen media reports regarding dispatch of Pakistani mangoes last week as [a] gift to some foreign dignitaries. We reject these reports as factually incorrect and misleading," a Foreign Office statement said.
The News had reported on Thursday that the FO was sending mangoes to state heads and government leaders of more than 32 countries on President Dr Arif Alvi's behalf as part of 'mango diplomacy'.
Citing sources, the report added that a number of countries, including the US and China, had refused to accept the mango dispatches and asked Pakistan to not send them due to "quarantine regulations".
It said the mangoes would also be sent to Iran, Gulf countries, Turkey, United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Russia, while Canada, Nepal, Egypt and Sri Lanka were among the countries which had refused the gift.
A number of Indian media outlets, including NDTV and The New Indian Express, picked up the story quoting The News' report, with a headline reading "US, China Decline Pakistan's 'Mango Diplomacy', Send Back Fruit Souvenirs."
Commenting on the reports, the FO in its statement said "a section of the Indian media has carried wrong and irresponsible reports."
Explaining the government's mango diplomacy, the FO said: "Every year, the president of Pakistan sends high-quality mangoes as [a] gift to selected countries as part of goodwill and to promote our trade diplomacy efforts."
It noted that Pakistani mango exports had risen to $104 million in 2019-20 from $78m the previous year.
"The [MoFA] prepares a list of countries keeping in view quarantine regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary requirements as well as availability of flights. Since last year, Covid-19-related stipulations are also part of the consideration," the statement said.
It clarified that the process for the current year was still in the planning stages and, therefore, "there is no question of dispatch of mangoes to any country.”