Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s second day in the national capital was packed with bilateral meetings and visits which eventually delayed his departure from the country.
He started the day with a visit to Jama Masjid in Old Delhi where he offered prayers alongside Shahi Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari. Sharif also visited the Red Fort. He was given a warm welcome by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Director General Raveesh Tiwari. Sharif was accompanied by son Hussain Sharif and others in his 26-member delegation.
At the Red Fort, Sharif is learnt to have discussed the issue of the Yamuna shifting away from the fort and compared the situation to that faced by the Lahore Fort.
“Like the Red Fort, the Lahore Fort is also in the heart of the city and, hence, a challenge to preserve. Mr Sharif asked ASI officials why Yamuna was shifting away from the fort. He also raised concerns about river Ravi moving away from the Lahore Fort. He was particularly curious about the quality of sandstone and marble used in the construction of the fort,” Superintendent Archaeologist (Delhi) Vasant Kumar said.
At the end of the tour, the Pakistani PM visited the museum inside Red Fort and read the manuscripts on display there.
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Lauding the ASI for the upkeep and maintenance of the fort, Sharif commented on how the two nations have a common history and share startling similarities in archaeological and cultural heritage.
After the visit, he head back to the hotel along with his delegation. He later left for his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in Central Delhi. The meeting lasted nearly 50 minutes, sources said.
He then called on President Pranab Mukherjee and then headed for the residence of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Krishna Menon Marg. Though the visit to Vajpayee was not on the PM’s official schedule, Sharif’s staff said the PM had expressed a wish to meet the veteran BJP leader on Monday evening, following which the meeting was hastily chalked out.
In a statement to the press before his departure, Sharif said, “I recalled my invitation to Prime Minister Vajpayee to Lahore in February 1999 and told him that I intended to pick up the threads of the Lahore Declaration, which had been left off in October 1999.”
Actor Dharmendra and MP Shatrughan Sinha too called on the Pakistan PM. Dharmendra said he considered Sharif a “younger brother” and that he was very pleased that Sharif had accepted Modi’s invitation to the swearing-in ceremony.
Sharif’s last meeting of the day was with Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. Though Sharif was scheduled to leave Delhi around 1.30 pm, he eventually flew back by 5 in the evening.