Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan exchanged usual pleasantries in the Leaders’ Lounge at SCO Summit in Bishkek on Friday, officials from both the sides have told The Indian Express.
Confirming the development, Pakistan Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said both the leaders shook hands with each other. When asked how much they spoke to each other, Qureshi said, “I didn’t have a stopwatch”.
The latest development could be seen as a possible thaw in the frosty ties between India-Pakistan as tensions escalated between the two countries since the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 earlier this year.
At the summit, Modi and Khan sat across the table at a dinner at the Frunze restaurant, but there was no exchange of pleasantries. Even at the gala concert after the dinner at the Kyrgyz National Philharmonic, the two leaders sat in the front row but were separated by at least seven leaders in between.
Before this, in June 2017, more than 17 months after Modi met Sharif in Lahore, the two had met in the Leaders’ Lounge at the opera house in Astana where they had gone for the SCO summit to watch a cultural performance — just like today.
Before landing in Bishkek, Khan had told Russian news agency Sputnik that Pakistan’s relationship with India is probably at its “lowest point”, and hoped Modi will use his “big mandate” to resolve all differences, including the Kashmir issue.
While addressing at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Friday, PM Modi said that nations supporting terrorism must be isolated. Modi, in the presence of Khan, said that countries supporting or funding terrorism must be held “accountable”.
Earlier, there were speculations regarding the possibility of a “pull-aside” meeting between the leaders. What made the chances of a possible meeting between both the leaders even more remote was PM Modi’s flight avoiding Pakistan airspace while flying to SCO summit on Thursday.
Pakistan had earlier responded to an Indian request by conveying its decision to give flight clearance for the PM’s flight. However, India decided that PM Modi’s flight for the (SCO) summit will not fly over Pakistani airspace.
On Thursday, Pakistan had Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority had extended its airspace ban along its eastern border with India for the third time till June 28.