Birthday diplomacy: Modi meets Sharif in Pakistan
This was the first visit by an Indian executive head of the Government to Pakistan in more than a decade.
Modi returned to Delhi around 8.30 pm. He was received by Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the airport.
Recently when Modi and Sharif were engaged in a brief conversation at the climate change talks in Paris, their meeting was seen as a significant initiative and a precurser to a comprehensive peace dialogue that was disrupted by a series of terror attacks and violation of ceasefire by Pakistan along the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier today Modi, who was in Kabul, Afghanistan, at the end of his Moscow visit to inaugurate the Parliament complex built with Indian help, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart and greeted him on his birthday. Modi also sprung a major surprise when he tweeted on Friday: “Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi”
Ruling BJP sokesperson Nalin Kohli, on PM Modi’s stopover and meeting with Sharif, said India was ready to take two steps forward if Pakistan took one to improve ties between the countries.
As expected, the Congress leader Anand Sharma has reacted strongly saying this visit was not spontaneous. It was meant to serve personal interests rather than national interests.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a separatist leader in Kashmir, said: “It’s a welcome step. We hope that it is followed by a consistent policy of engagement to resolve the Kashmir dispute. India and Pakistan have to evolve a mechanism to involve the core party to the issue that is the Kashmiri people.”
The displaced Kashmiri Pundits, who have been forced to vacate their properties and leave Kashmir under threat by the separatists and terrorists and are now living as refugees in their own country, are continuously raising their voice and taking away the wind out of the sail of the seperatist leaders like Umar Farooq and digging a hole in their stand when they talk of the Kashmiri people. Their contention is that the Kashmiri voice will have to be inclusive and that cannot be possible unless the Government of India takes concrete steps to ensure they return to their homeland without delay.
The success of Modi’s birthday diplomacy will be measured only by total end to ceasfire violations along the LoC in Kashmir, end to infiltration and cross-border terrorism and action by Pakistan to punish the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attack.