CHRISTMAS – in its true spirit of joy and happiness, certainly brought a tint of joy and liveliness in the messed up relationship b/w INDIA and PAKISTAN.
On 25th December,2015 the social and reporting media were set abuzz, when the Prime Minister of India tweeted, “Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi.”
Within minutes, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “That’s like a statesman. Padosi se aise hi rishte hone chahiyen (One should have such relations with neighbours).”
Narendra Modi was in Kabul to inaugurate the Parliament of Afghanistan, which was build with the help of India. At around 11:30 IST, Modi called his Pakistani counterpart PM Nawaz Sharif to congratulate him on his birthday and Sharif said, “Humei bhi kabhi mehman-nawaji ka mauka dijiye(Let us also be your host).” Sharif had already invited PM Modi thrice and this time Modi replied, ” I’ll greet you in person” , thereby accepting the invitation that was pending since May,2014.
The end of this call resulted in a commotion for both the sides and a meeting was arranged over the next few hours along with the last-minute visa-on-arrival for the Indian delegation, including Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and NSA Ajit Doval. The decision of stopover at Lahore was so spontaneous and last minute that the Indian Diplomats were given mandatory permission to travel outside Islamabad over phone by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry. T C A Raghavan, Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad, who was on leave, flew in a chartered flight to Lahore, after he was informed about the stopover in Lahore.
With this surprise visit to Pakistan, Narendra Modi once again showcased his diplomatic skills and took the diplomacy to a whole new level. Even after receiving threats from various terrorist groups, the Indian PM bestowed his trust in the security arrangements made by Nawaz Sharif. This was really a big decision. When Air India One landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, Pakistani PM had come in person to welcome his Indian counterpart and both embraced each other. PM Modi flew in a chopper with PM Nawaz Sharif to his home Jati Umrah in Raiwind at the outskirts of Lahore.
The Pakistani PM’s house was decorated like a beautiful bride on the occasion of Nawaz Sharif’s birthday and Mehndi Rasam of his grand-daughter, which made it an occasion of double celebration. PM Modi gave his blessings to the to-be-bride.
Both the PM’s then sat down to talk with each other and enjoyed numerous vegetarian delicacies among which was Modi’s favourite- “saag” with all the dishes prepared with desi ghee. About the talk, one official revealed: “Nothing hugely substantial, only light talk, small talk. Both leaders talked a lot about Atal Behari Vajpayee.” This was not a summit, rather it was a step to bring a notch of sweetness in the relations b/w the two nations that have turned sour and by bringing in the families, a try to warm up the cold links of brotherhood. Both the leaders decided to take forward the dialogue process and open ways for peace and better atmosphere.
On returning to Delhi, PM Narendra Modi, in a tweet, said he was “personally touched” by Sharif’s gesture of welcoming and seeing him off at the airport and his hospitality. He(PM Sharif) recalled his interactions with former PM Vajpayee and asked me to convey his best regards to him. Modi said, “Nawaz Sahab’s birthday and grand-daughter’s marriage made it an occasion of double celebration.”
While all the major opposition parties of Pakistan, like, Peoples Party of Pakistan, welcomed the move of Indian PM’s surprise stoppage at Lahore and described it as a gesture of good-will. But the opposition party in India, Congress could not digest this news and called this event as an act of bringing shame to the country.
What is important is that India and Pakistan are now not following unnecessary formalities. Even a Joint Secretary visit to Pakistan becomes news, it prompts questions like will they speak to the Hurriyat, will there be a joint statement, will they sip tea? Such speculation is more of an obstacle. For a better relationship, you need to avoid hype, don’t let pressure groups dictate every meeting India and Pakistan make and this has been very well displayed by our PM.
Well what can we say, This is MODI-STYLE!!!!