Key idea of PM Modi’s stopover: Demystify India-Pak visits, delink from outcome

India met Pakistan, Af-way.

Written by Sheela Bhatt , Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: December 26, 2015 9:23 am
narendra modi, nawaz sharif, modi, sharif, nawaz sharif birthday, modi pakistan, modi in lahore, modi sharif meeting, modi sharif residence, modi sharif birthday, modi kabul, kabul, india news, pakistan news, latest news Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, at Lahore, Pakistan on December 25, 2015.

If the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on Friday came as a surprise, what led to it was a blend of the personal and the political. In the carefully choreographed and scripted nature of India-Pak diplomacy, this was as spontaneous as it gets, officials involved have confirmed to The Indian Express.

When asked what was talked about, the official said: “Nothing hugely substantial, only light talk, small talk. Both leaders talked a lot about Atal Behari Vajpayee.”

READ: PM Modi arrives in Delhi after Lahore visit, Pak welcomes India’s initiative 

The central idea, they said, was to signal that every meeting — even at the highest level — is not a summit, every meeting doesn’t have to have an “outcome,” and Modi wanted to “demystify” the process. This, sources said, was also meant to undermine “pressure groups and hawks within, especially in the media, who raise the pitch on any meeting.”

So, sources said, when Modi called Sharif from Kabul this morning to wish him on his 66th birthday — moments before addressing the Afghan Parliament — the ball was set rolling for a possible stopover in Lahore.

SEE PHOTOS: Narendra Modi, Nawaz Sharif walk hand-in-hand, Pakistan welcomes India’s initiative 

The PM greeted Sharif on his birthday and then said he was over-flying Pakistan. Sharif said he was in Lahore. Modi is said to have asked him, “Lahore main kya kar rahe hain?” Nawaz said his granddaughter’s marriage was on Saturday.

READ| Security in Lahore on high alert ahead of PM Modi’s visit 


Modi, who has been thrice invited by Sharif, said: “I will greet you in person.” In effect, the Prime Minister accepted the invitation that was pending since May 2014, said an official.

They ended the call without any confirmation. Over the next few hours, the meeting was put together, along with last-minute visas-on-arrival for the Indian delegation, including Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and NSA Ajit Doval. Modi called External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to apprise her of his plans. Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad T C A Raghavan was on leave. He was informed about the stopover by Indian officials in Kabul, minutes before Modi tweeted about it at 1.31 pm. Raghavan flew in a chartered flight from Islamabad and joined the PM’s team at Sharif’s Raiwind residence, where the two prime ministers went in a helicopter.

From the Pakistan side, only Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary — who was at his Lahore home for the Christmas holiday — was able to make it. NSA Naseer Khan Janjua and Sharif’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, both in Islamabad, could not make it.

The decision was so last-minute that Indian diplomats were given mandatory permission to travel outside Islamabad by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry over the phone. The coordination took place over the phone by Indian diplomats, as they travelled from Islamabad to Lahore.

Only Sharif’s brother, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, and Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were part of the “cordial” meeting between the two prime ministers.

Sources said they agreed to schedule the meeting of Foreign Secretaries around January 15-16 in Islamabad.

Officially, news of the stopover was announced by Modi on Twitter: “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).”

It was during Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan earlier this month that the two sides decided to restart the comprehensive bilateral dialogue.

After returning to Delhi, Modi said he was “personally touched” by Sharif’s gesture of welcoming him at the airport and seeing him off. He also called “very touching” Sharif’s affection towards BJP veteran and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “He (Sharif) recalled their interactions & asked me to convey his regards to Atal ji,” Modi said in another tweet.

“Nawaz Sahab’s birthday & granddaughter’s marriage made it a double celebration,” he tweeted.

Modi, who became the first Indian PM to visit Pakistan after Vajpayee in 2004, was accorded a red carpet welcome as the special IAF aircraft landed at Lahore at about 4.50 pm IST.

He was received by Sharif with a warm hug at the tarmac of Allama Iqbal International Airport. Both then took a chopper to reach Sharif’s Raiwind residence in the outskirts of Lahore.

Modi also met Sharif’s family and “blessed” his grand-daughter Mehrunnisa, whose wedding is taking place at Sharif’s residence. Sharif later came to the airport to see Modi off.

This was the second meeting between the two prime ministers in less than a month, after their interaction on the sidelines of the climate change talks in Paris on November 30.

In Lahore, Chaudhary said the stopover took place in an atmosphere of goodwill and foreign secretaries will now meet in January to take forward the modalities of the dialogue process.

He described Modi’s stopover as a “goodwill visit” and said the two leaders discussed the comprehensive dialogue which the two countries have recently decided to start.

“The two leaders decided to take forward the dialogue process,” Chowdhury said, adding that they agreed to “open ways for peace and a better atmosphere”, while understanding each other’s concerns.

“Both leaders expressed their desire to carry forward the dialogue process for the larger good of people of the two countries,” said the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

A senior diplomatic source said: “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.”

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  1. R
    Jan 10, 2016 at 6:59 pm
    I believe it is a plan in bigger and larger strategy of Modiji
    1. A
      Dec 26, 2015 at 11:16 am
      Typify the eccentric and egocentric personality of the PM
      1. b
        brahmin _butcher
        Dec 26, 2015 at 12:38 am
        stan was, until y'day a terrorist state. Today, after Godra butcher visit and compared to Godra terrorism, Pak terrorism is nothing even to brahmin butchery.
        1. P
          Dec 26, 2015 at 12:21 am
          Oh I never knew that Modi is also a playboy of RSS. So where does RSS use him? Ayodya?
          1. L
            Dec 25, 2015 at 11:50 pm
            Like Modi, even earthquake too comes without notice. Both are equally destructive.
            1. B
              Dec 25, 2015 at 11:52 pm
              Wherever Modi places his feet, it turns into Godra! What an OMEN.
              1. K
                Krishna Bhagawan
                Dec 26, 2015 at 10:57 am
                As they say, smile but keep your dunda ready
                1. K
                  Dec 26, 2015 at 2:17 am
                  Modi proves one more time that he is not just Modi but a Modiot.
                  1. A
                    Abhinav Pathak
                    Dec 26, 2015 at 4:51 am
                    We need to understand that, stan is bipolar "Civil" and "Military". So we should have bipolar strategy. Engage Civil govt and make it strong and hit Military at borders. The more we make stan Civil govt strong , it will lead to more control of its military. Its continuous process and by adding small small good steps we have to do that. At every international forum Modi made it sure that it isolates stan. This govt is definitely not soft on stan Military and heating them hard at borders. Check out the all encounter details in J&K. Same was missing during UPA1 and UPA2. Hence BJP opposed it. Have rational and pragmatic view to look
                    1. K
                      Dec 26, 2015 at 4:20 am
                      Regular meeting with stan at every level is good but what about attacking Congress for the same ( ) Is it to win the election only ?? The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party accused Mr. Singh’s Congress-led administration of being soft on stan. Narendra Modi, the opposition candidate for prime minister, called the defense minister, A. K. Antony, an agent of stan ( )
                      1. K
                        Dec 26, 2015 at 4:24 am
                        We cant say anything until the greatest anchor & political analystof "Times Now" dissect this ( ) Of-course paid anchor finds everything good of MODI and everything bad of Congress ( )
                        1. A
                          Dec 26, 2015 at 7:17 am
                          JAITLEY'S DDCA corruption has been sidelined due to this visit. That is the objective of the visit.
                          1. E
                            Dec 26, 2015 at 12:38 am
                            It is all going to end in tears. Like it always does. Modi n India still have not leant the lesson of history. YOU CAN NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORIST. We are going to get stabbed in the back again.
                            1. P
                              pani c
                              Dec 26, 2015 at 1:05 pm
                              Everyone in power in last 60 years have tried different things to normalise relations but have failed. The Pm can try his method . No harm . It is an ongoing process. If there is another terrorist attack we will go back to status quo. No harm in trying. Best of luck
                              1. I
                                Dec 26, 2015 at 11:14 pm
                                Those in power in last 60 years had no interest in the welfare of the people on both side of the border. Their own conflicting interests wouldn't support normal relations. They had power but no responsibility. They were not the kind of people who lead, they were mobsters who were only concerned with their power and possessions. Unless Indians let our prime minister be the true leader, we have been thus far a leaderless society. Look around and name one thing that gives you a sense of pride.
                                1. J
                                  Jagdish Saigal
                                  Dec 26, 2015 at 12:38 pm
                                  Such meetings should become part of normal relations between the two countries, while negotiations on substantive issues should be conducted through back channel.
                                  1. K
                                    kamath Ramesh
                                    Dec 26, 2015 at 8:16 am
                                    Whatever our PM does, he does it in style. it becomes the topic for debates in media. In fact the relation with neighbors should be like this only. Only thing to worry Pak should not show its color the way it had shown earlier. If we see, Modi handle diplomacy differently. He makes people his friend & not as counterpart. Wherever he has gone he has made friends there name it Obama, Cameroon, Sheikh Hasina, Holland or Putin. He is the believer of "Vasudaiva Kutumbakam" means w world is a family. World needs leader like Modi”
                                    1. P
                                      Dec 25, 2015 at 11:59 pm
                                      The stop over in stan by PM is a slapping reply to the opposition party and the people who talk about him as a playboy of RSS.
                                      1. K
                                        Kuldeep Saxena
                                        Dec 26, 2015 at 2:14 pm
                                        It is for the first time in the history of both the nations, visit of Mr. Modi really was the need of the hour as the talks and negotiations are on. This visit will not only help in resolving some of the issue and would definitely release the tension among the two Asian Countries as well as one of the best moments in the history of two nations. World over various nations have earned a praise for Mr. Modi as well Mr. Nawaj Shariff and definitely would promote a sense for good will not only this the stan's leader of opposition have also welcomed this visit. The initiate of Indian PM is remarkable in the history of the country as it stands as remarkable step. Mr. Modi's efforts in the international arena are worth praise.
                                        1. M
                                          M N
                                          Dec 26, 2015 at 12:55 pm
                                          Parhaps it was one of d best gift frm p m 2 india in 2016
                                          1. M
                                            M Vyas
                                            Dec 26, 2015 at 1:04 pm
                                            Obama of US admin should simultaneously praise Rahul Sonia MMS. trio for not praising Modi's visit...stan has Hafiz and We in India has first family to attack and disloke positive actions of Modi Govt..
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