In a move argued as politically significant, Prime Minister Modi made a surprise announcement of stopping by at Lahore and meeting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as he return back to India from Afghanistan. By the afternoon, as political spectrum debated the move, the Indian Prime Minister was holding ‘chai pe charcha‘ with his Pakistan counterpart at the latter’s family home in Lahore.
PM Modi was on a short visit to Afghanistan, following his two-day Russia visit, to inaugurate their Parliament when he had made the announcement on Friday.
The announcement came from Prime Minister Modi on a micro-blogging site Twitter as he prepared to wind up his brief visit to Afghanistan.
“Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” he had shared on his Twitter handle.
Earlier, the Prime Minister spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif wishing him on his 66th birthday. “Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif and wished him on his birthday. I wish the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and pray that he remains in wonderful health,” PM Modi added in another tweet shortly after his address at Afghanistan Parliament.
While, the principal opposition party criticised the move dubbing it an “adventurism”, the ruling BJP strongly praised the move.
“That’s like a statesman. Padosi se aise hi rishte hone chahiyen (One should have such relations with the neighbours)” wrote Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who was among the first one to pat PM Modi on his move.
The Congress, on the other hand, was quick to denounce the surprise announcement.
“You can’t do such things in such a cavalier manner. The relationship between India and Pakistan is perhaps the most complex… In his tenure so far, the PM has done several somersaults on Pakistan. The question is what has changed? This adventure of Prime Minister will be going to have very serious implications on the national security” said former union minister and Congress leader Manish Tewari.
The relations between India and Pakistan have off-late witnessed thaw after the considerable chill, the period which saw repeated ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) by the Pakistan forces and cancellation of NSA-level talks in August.
But the things swing around remarkably soon paving way for the one-on-one talks between the National Security Advisors (NSA) in Bangkok, followed by Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad and finally the meeting between PM Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of Climate Change Summit in Paris.
The two countries had agreed to launch a comprehensive dialogue after Modi-Sharif meeting in Paris.