PM Narendra Modi’s Pakistan visit: Political parties spar over surprise Lahore trip

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New Delhi | Published: December 25, 2015 6:40:13 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Lahore today for a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in a surprise visit to this country--the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian premier in more than 10 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his arrival in Lahore on Friday. (PTI Photo/ Twitter MEA)Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his arrival in Lahore on Friday. (PTI Photo/ Twitter MEA)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Lahore today for a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in a surprise visit to this country–the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian premier in more than 10 years. On the one hand, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed the visit path-breaking departure from protocol-driven politics and CPI welcomed the move, other political parties including JD(U) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) questioned the sudden “yaarana” (friendship).

PM Narendra Modi was received by Sharif with a warm hug at the tarmac of Allama Iqbal International Airport after his unexpected stopover here on his way back home after a day-long trip today to Afghanistan where he went after concluding a two-day visit to Russia yesterday.

Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise decision to stop over at Lahore as a “path-breaking” departure from the “protocol-driven” politics between India and Pakistan, BJP today said there could not be a better day than the birth day of Atal Bihari Vajpayee for this.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said the two neighbours needed to inject informality in their relations, as is the case in many places of the world like the EU and ASEAN.

“PM Modi’s sudden stop over at Lahore to greet Pakiatan PM Nawaz Sharif is a much needed departure from protocol-driven politics between the two countries. Like leaders of other nations in the world like the EU, ASEAN and even countries in our neighborhood leaders of India and Pakistan too needed to inject informality in their relations.

Sharif-Modi-PTI

CPI welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, saying it would help take forward the Indo-Pak dialogue process. “There have been many strains in our relationship. The ice was finally broken by the NSA-level talks and the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan. Now that process is being followed up by Modi’s visit,” CPI National Secretary D Raja said.

JD(U) said it was “stunned” by the decision, especially in the wake of violations by the neighbouring country on the border, including the beheading of an Indian jawan. The party said that “friendship and betrayal cannot go hand in hand” as it reacted sharply to the surprise announcement by Modi as he prepared to wind up his brief visit to Afghanistan today.

“I am stunned and shocked. At this moment, I can think of beheaded Hemraj,” said JD(U) leader KC Tyagi.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today wondered as to what was the change that prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Lahore when BJP opposed talks with Pakistan, and asked why this “yaarana” (friendship).

Senior AAP leader Ashutosh said it was BJP and Modi who were opposing talks with Pakistan under the pretext of terrorism. He questioned whether terrorism has completely stopped as Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif has now become a likable figure to Modi.

“It’s BJP/Modi who has been opposing talks with Pakistan during the time of (former Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh under the pretext of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. What has changed now?

“We have always been saying (that) engagement with Pakistan is needed but BJP was opposing. Now they should explain – itna yaarana kyon lag raha hain Modi ji (why so much friendship),” Ashutosh tweeted.

Separatists also welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore today, 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.

“We do not have any issues with relations improving between India and Pakistan… No right thinking persons 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 endeavours are to succeed,” Geelani told PTI.

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