BIRTHDAY DIPLOMACY: On his way home from Kabul, Prime Minister
rendra Modi on Friday flew into Lahore for a surprise meeting with his
New Delhi, Dec 25: Prime Minister rendra Modi returned to New
Delhi on Friday from Kabul with a dramatic surprise stopover in Lahore
where he and his Pakistani counterpart waz Sharif vowed to pursue the
derailed bilateral peace process.
During the stop over at Lahore, Modi and Sharif spent some 90 minutes
at Sharif’s ancestral residence in Raiwind town, about 40 km from
Lahore, and decided to continue the suspended dialogue between the two
countries after months of border tension.
It was a telephone call from Modi from Kabul greeting Sharif on his
birthday which triggered the dramatic journey –– his first to Pakistan
and the first by any Indian prime minister in 11 years.
Sharif had attended Modi’s oath taking in New Delhi in May 2014.
A Pakistani official said Modi also blessed the granddaughter of
Sharif on her wedding. "Modi had no clue about the wedding," he said.
The Indian leader, who sipped Kashmiri tea while meeting Sharif, also met the Pakistani leader’s mother.
Modi reportedly told Sharif that it was important for the leadership
of the two countries to understand each other’s position. The Pakistani
media said the two leaders had decided to take forward their bilateral
relations for the benefit of South Asia.
Modi and Sharif agreed to promote people–to–people contacts and confidence building measures.
Sharif and his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were
among the VIPs who received Modi at the Allama Iqbal Intertiol
Airport as Modi landed in an Indian Air Force plane. The two leaders
then took a helicopter to Raiwind.
Geo TV reported that the visit "was not that surprising" as the Lahore Air Traffic Control had been told about it on Thursday.
But few in India and Pakistan knew about the programme, which came at
a time when bilateral relations have shown definite improvement after
months of tension and border clashes.
The Pakistan Air Force presented a guard of honour for Modi.
The Pakistan government welcomed the development with Foreign
Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry describing it as a goodwill gesture on the part
of the Indian prime minister.
Modi and Sharif had fleetingly met at the Paris Climate Summit on
November 30, preparing the atmosphere for a resumption of the stalled
Indian tiol Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who accompanied Modi to
Lahore, met his Pakistani counterpart in Bangkok earlier this month.
This was followed by Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to
The two foreign secretaries are set to meet in January, also in the Pakistani capital.
Hours before he left Kabul for Lahore, Modi addressed the Afghan
parliament and blasted Pakistan – but without ming the country – for
sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan.
"Terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan’s
future or dictate the choices Afghans make," Modi told Afghan MPs. Modi
reached Kabul early on Friday after a two–day visit to Russia.
In an obvious reference to Pakistan, Modi said there were "some who did not want us to be here".
"There were those who saw sinister designs in our presence here.
There are others who were uneasy at the strength of our partnership.
Some even tried to discourage us."
At the same time, Modi said Pakistan must act like a bridge between South Asia and Afghanistan.
"All of us in the region – India, Pakistan, Iran and others – must
unite, in trust and cooperation, behind this common purpose and in
recognition of our common destiny."
Ahead of his address, he and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly
iugurated Afghanistan’s new parliament building which was constructed
with Indian assistance of $90 million.
After arriving in Kabul from Moscow early Friday morning, Modi and Ghani held delegation–level talks over breakfast.
The Indian prime minister also met Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai.
Modi had left on Wednesday for a two–day visit to Russia for the
annual summit–level meeting during which the two countries signed 16
agreements, including those related to defence and nuclear production.
HOW PAKISTAN REACTED
This is what Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said about the visit:
* It was a good visit
* Meeting was held in very cordial atmosphere
* It was decided to initiate comprehensive bilateral dialogue
* It has been decided that there will be more interaction, people to people contact to create an environment of goodwill
* All issues in composite dialogue to be taken up
* Foreign secretaries of both countries could meet in January in Islamabad
* We need to see the issues and we need to open road of peace
* Both countries should address each others’ concerns and understand them
* They should open avenues of peace with each other
WHAT POLITICAL PARTIES SAID
Diplomacy cannot be fun and games but needs seriousness and maturity, says Congress.
India’s engagement with Pakistan a good step: Omar
What has changed now, asks AAP on Modi’s Lahore visit
Modi’s Pakistan visit path–breaking departure from protocol–driven politics: BJP
CPI welcomes Modi’s surprise Pakistan visit move
JD(U) ’shocked’ by Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan