New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sprung a surprise when he announced that he would make a brief stopover in Lahore on way back from Afghanistan, to meet Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif who is celebrating his birthday today.
While the visit is a short one to wish Nawaz Sharif and also likely discuss bilateral issues, it is significant as this is the first visit by an Indian PM to Pakistan since Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the neighbouring country in 2004.
Modi’s Pakistan visit comes in the backdrop of NSA-level talks between the two countries in Bangkok, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s subsequent visit to Islamabad during which India and Pakistan decided to hold Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.
That dialogue will include all issues on the table.
Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan has received acclaim as well as criticism.
While Sushma called Modi a ‘statesman’ for his step, Congress called it bizarre.
Others are seeing this as a diplomatic masterstroke aimed at taking forward the bilateral ties, which have been frosty since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
However, all the effort will go in vain if Pakistan fails to act against terrorists operating from its soil, particularly against perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
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