Indian PM Modi’s Surprise Visit To Pakistan – OpEd


Following his official visits to Russia and Afghanistan, Indian Prime Minister Modi landed at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport on December 25 on a “surprise” visit, where he was received by Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif and his bother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

PM Modi visited Lahore on his way back home in a surprise visit – the first trip to Pakistan by an Indian premier in more than 10 years. This is the first time an Indian Prime Minister has visited Pakistan in more than a decade after former statesman like PM AB Vajpayee made a trip from Amritsar to Lahore on an Indo-Pakistani government plan. The same ruling party BJP but different premiers! Modi repeated the same “innovative” diplomatic trip.

Modi’s arrival in Lahore looks unannounced to the public, though not necessarily unscheduled and so the media of governments of both India and Pakistan have been kept in darkness about Modi meeting Sharif.

In international relations unscheduled visits are seen as abnormal practice. A visit, normal or unscheduled visits require preparations. Pakistan needed time to prepare for welcoming Indian guest. Modi met Sharif in latter’s home town Lahore and elaborate arrangements were made to felicitate Indian PM.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourite dish ‘Saag’ was among other vegetarian delicacies prepared for him during a lunch-cum-dinner at Jati Umrah residence of his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. “All dishes, including Saag, daal and vegetable food, were cooked in desi ghee,” a source in the Jati Umra said. He said Kashmiri tea was presented to the Indian premier. Some 11 members of Modi’s delegation accompanied him to the Jati Umerah who were issued a 72-hour visa. (However, over 100 other members of the delegations stayed at the Allama Iqbal International Airport. There were refreshments at the airport for them).

When Modi reached at Jati Umrah Raiwind residence, located on the outskirts of Lahore, Sharif’s son Hasan and other family members received him warmly. The source said Sharif’s mother also entered the hall where both premiers were holding the meeting along with his other family members. “Modi touched the feet of Sharif’s mother,” he said.

As expected, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), General Secretary Ram Madhav lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “sudden” Lahore visit, saying this is an extra ordinary step which will take the relation between both the nations to a new level. This “breath taking” step would make our relations with Pakistan more informal,” he said. “This step was initiated by the Prime Minister in his oath taking ceremony by inviting all the premiers of the neighbouring countries,” he added.

When in opposition, the BJP always opposed Indo-Pakistan relations. Now the ruling party BJP General Secretary said that the relationship with Pakistan needed a transformation adding that the Prime Minister has done a wonderful job by initiating this step. “This step gains further importance because this has taken place on the Birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajapyee,” he added.

The Congress Party, however, lashed out at Narendra Modi for his “sudden detour” to Lahore for attending Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s birthday, saying the ‘unannounced visit cannot be termed statesman like as the former hasn’t done anything to promote India’s national interest. “I completely reject External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s claim that this visit is statesman like. It can’t be termed statesman like. Diplomacy must have seriousness and gravitas,” Congress leader Anand Sharma told media here. “His External Affairs Minister claims, very foolishly so, that its statesman like, we completely reject her claim,” he added.

The Congress leader further said that the meet was ‘pre-arranged’, saying that both the Prime Ministers met for one hour in Kathmandu during the SAARC summit. “He has not done so to promote India’s national interest. An Indian industrialist who has a private business with ruling establishment in Pakistan is there already, so how is Prime Minister’s visit spontaneous?” he asked. Congress leader Sharma further claimed that the Prime Minister has ‘not gone to Pakistan to take forward the roadmap to engage with Pakistan or build an understanding that would eliminate immediate threats”. “How many Prime Ministers or Heads of States make such detours to wish birthdays? In last 67 years, has any Indian Prime Minister landed in another country in this manner,” he sought to know.

Prime Minister Modi landed at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport on a surprise visit, where he was received by his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. This is the first time an Indian Prime Minister has visited Pakistan in more than a decade.

Kashmiri freedom leaders (Separatists) in Sri Nagar welcomed PM Modi’s visit to Lahore on Friday, with “moderate” Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq terming it “a positive move” and “hardline” faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani saying they have no objection to improved relations between India and Pakistan. The Mirwaiz further said, “Political will and vision is needed on all sides to address issues, especially Kashmir…We do not have any issues with relations improving between India and Pakistan… No right thinking peoples shall have any reservation on it. However, the two countries have to address the Kashmir issue as per wishes and aspirations of the people if these endeavors are to succeed,” Geelani said. “We hope that Pakistan will also remain steadfast on its stand on Kashmir issue.”

Another “moderate” Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan is a positive move. People of Kashmir welcome any opportunity that brings India and Pakistan close.” Abdul Gani Bhat, head of Muslim Conference, a constituent of the “moderate” Hurriyat faction, said his party supports the resumption of dialogue process between India and Pakistan to resolve all disputes, including of course the dispute on Kashmir, and consider this development as an effectively civilized means to move out from the frozen yesterdays to a peacefully productive tomorrow,” Bhat said.

Admitting that no dialogue process has so far produced any results, Bhat said the situation now was different in the backdrop of the dynamics of global economic liberalization as an order, which pre-supposes that peace and disputes can never co-exist.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Friday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, saying it is a step in the right direction. Sayeed said he was delighted by Modi’s visit, which will further strengthen the bonds of friendship and usher in an era of peace and stability in the region. This is an “evolutionary process and step in the right direction”, he said. “It indicates the Prime Minister’s resolve to enter into a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan,” the Chief Minister said in a statement.

Sayeed hoped that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues between the two countries. This initiative, besides being a great step towards improvement of bilateral relations, will also give impetus to the concept of SAARC, he added.

The 79-year-old PDP leader Sayeed was yesterday admitted to the premier medical institute AIIMS in Ansari Nagar, New Delhi after he complained of uneasiness at his residence in Srinagar and was flown to Delhi in a state aircraft.

PM Modi returned to New Delhi where he was welcomed and met briefly by his foreign minister Sushma Swaraj at the airport.

India has shown it is the super power of South Asia by constructing new parliamentary building in Kabul and it seeks to retain all regional nations its “customers” but New Delhi’s strategists believe that Pakistan is not an easy customer but India should keep its diplomacy on alert to get Pakistan on board because many future economic projects, including oil-gas pipelines will have to pass though Pakistan and Afghanistan from Central Asia and West Asia. USA and NATO have been on the job in getting Pakistan work for the “projects” even by killing Pakistanis as “terrorists” who oppose the big Silk Route projects.

Both India and Pakistan have a common agenda: retention of nukes, while India pins hopes of retaining Kashmir now a mere prestige issue.

India bullies Pakistan on “terrorism” and by citing “action” on terror, New Delhi seems indirectly talk only about the secret future economic projects that bring money as commission charges.

Dr. Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is a columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics. He is an expert on Mideast affairs, as well as a chronicler of foreign occupations and freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.). Dr. Ruff is a specialist on state terrorism, the Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA), commentator on world affairs and sport fixings, and a former university teacher. He is the author of various eBooks/books and editor for INTERNATIONAL OPINION and editor for FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES; Palestine Times.

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