Stopover at Lahore: PM visited Pak to promote private business interests, says Congress

"The re-engagement with Pakistan is a good step & a very welcome development. However more than grand gestures we need consistency," Omar Abdullah tweeted.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: December 26, 2015 2:20 am
narendra modi, nawaz sharif, modi in lahore, modi sharif meeting, modi in pakistan, modi pakistan visit, opposition reaction modi in lahore, india news, pakistan news, latest news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warmly received by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, at Lahore, Pakistan on December 25, 2015. (Source: PIB)

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise stopover in Pakistan to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif Friday, the Congress alleged that Modi was in Lahore to “promote private business interests (and) not India’s interest”.

JD(U) and Aam Aadmi Party, too, slammed the PM for his unexpected move. The Left, however, welcomed it.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the government is “foolishly” thinking that the PM’s unannounced trip was a “masterstroke”. Claiming that the visit was “pre-arranged and pre-discussed”, he said an “industrialist” had played a role in arranging the meeting.

“Engagement between nation states and talks between heads of states and governments must have predictability… no Prime Minister of India has landed in another country in this manner and claimed this was just to wish Nawaz Sharif on his birthday. How many heads of states and prime ministers in the world just abruptly make detours and land in the capital of another country to greet on birthdays and Christmas? This country cannot be fooled by that,” he said.

Sharma said Modi’s “approach is frivolous, unpredictable and marked by fits, starts and abrupt U-turns.”

READ | Live updates of PM Modi’s Lahore visit

“He has not done so to promote India’s national interest. It is now in public domain that he used vested private business interests for a secret meeting with Nawaz Sharif in Kathmandu earlier and the same channel he has used for the meeting in Lahore. The industrialist concerned, who has a business partnership with the ruling establishment in Pakistan, was there for the last two days. This has come out in the open. So how can the government claim this was spontaneous,” he asked.

The Congress demanded that Modi explain “what are the assurances he is bringing back”. “Has this process been unequivocally endorsed by the real establishment and force in Pakistan — the ISI and the Pakistani army? What are the assurances given, particularly with regard to the trial and punishment of perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack, in particular Lakhvi?” Sharma said.

Arguing that the UPA too had indulged in track II diplomacy but had engaged former ambassadors and diplomats for it, Sharma said: “The business world was not used.”

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari reacted to Modi’s surprise visit and tweeted saying, “PM’s misadventure to Lahore is worst manifestation of Spectecalisation of Diplomacy Last time Vajpayee went to Lahore Kargil!this time what?”

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also welcomed the prime minister’s gesture and tweeted, “The re-engagement with Pakistan is a good step & a very welcome development. However more than grand gestures we need consistency.”

Abdullah also added, “Indo-Pak relations have been plagued by knee-jerk reactions & a lack of consistency. Looking towards two PMs to correct this this time.”

Read | Separatists welcome Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore 

Senior JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said he was shocked by the visit. “I am stunned and shocked. At this moment, I can only think of the beheaded Hemraj,” he said. Lance Naik Hemraj was killed and beheaded by Pakistani soldiers on January 8 last year in the Poonch sector of J&K.

“Nothing is going to improve unless the leaders of Pakistan change their mindset. Pakistan should know that friendship with India on one hand and betrayal on the other cannot go together,” he added.

AAP leader Ashutosh said BJP and Modi were opposing talks with Pakistan under the pretext of terrorism.

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

Click to view pictures Modi in Lahore: Nawaz welcomes birthday guest

“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.

CPI(M) Politburo member Md Salim welcomed Modi’s Pak visit and tweeted, “We want consistent, regular dialogues and more people-to-people contact essential for lasting peaceful legacy. Negates hate-mongers and terrorists.”

“As a Leftist, I welcome any step towards peace and cooperation with Pakistan. We should move beyond photo-ops and personal bonhomie,” he added. Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the CPI-M leader said he hoped that the Indian prime minister would tell the nation as to what transpired during his meeting with his Pakistani
counterpart.

“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.

The JD(U), led by Nitish Kumar 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.

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

Lance Naik Hemraj was killed and beheaded by Pakistani soldiers on January 8 last year in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. That incident and a series of ceasefire violations plunged India-Pakistan ties to a new low that year.

Responding to the Congress charge that Modi visited Pakistan at an industrialist’s initiative, BJP said it was “unfortunate” that the country has an opposition like it which sees negative in all “positive efforts”.

“Such an allegation is absolutely incorrect and in bad taste. People have hopes from Modi and he has in a short span of time brought about a paradigm shift in India’s relationship with the outside world,” said BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma.

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