Naresh Chandra, former cabinet secretary and Indian ambassador to the US, on Friday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kabul and Lahore a “diplomatic coup”.
Chandra, who also served as convenor of National Security Advisory Board during the UPA regime, said, “It was a diplomatic coup that from Kabul, PM Modi landed in Lahore and was received warmly by the Pakistan PM. In a single day, he covered Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s historic.” He added that by “going ahead with the Pakistan visit”, Modi had “taken a personal risk and disregarded right-wing views in his party”.
“PM’s surprise visit signifies many things. Within Pakistan, there are questions on India’s role in Afghanistan. This stopover sends signals to soften Pakistan’s apprehensions. India is not using the Afghan card… It is necessary that these fears are addressed,” he said.
He added that the meeting also sent a signal to negotiators on both sides that they should “get on with business”.
He also said keeping the Indian media away from the visit was necessary because otherwise militants could have got a whiff of the visit, increasing the risk. Plus, there could have been demonstration on the streets of Pakistan, he said.
“The PM had a choice to make. There are pluses and minuses of doing things in a diplomacy. He would have lost spontaneity if it was known to all,” said Chandra.
Asked about the Congress charge that such a visit added “drama” to diplomacy, Chandra said, “When India and Pakistan meet, you simply cannot avoid drama.” He also sought to remind the Congress that it could not arrange a visit by former PM Manmohan Singh to Pakistan in 10 years.
Asked if the Pakistan Army would be on board regarding the meeting in Lahore, Chandra said, “May not be… So far, they have not issued any negative reaction.”