Modi makes surprise visit to Pakistan

Wednesday 06th January 2016 05:35 EST

Trust our beloved Prime Minister to do the unthinkable. In a dramatic and totally spontaneous gesture, NaMo became the 1st Indian Prime Minister since Vajpayee in 2004, to visit neighbouring country Pakistan. Modi took the entire world by surprise with a single tweet, hours before his departure from Kabul, saying he was going to “drop by” in Lahore for a meeting with Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif, where the latter was present for his granddaughter's wedding. Received at Lahore airport by Sharif, both the leaders hugged warmly before they walked hand-in-hand on the red carpet laid out in Modi's honour. In another first, the two leaders took a Pakistani military chopper to Sharif's Raiwind home on the outskirts of Lahore.

Termed as 'Birthday Diplomacy' by the media, the “impromptu“ meeting with Sharif - after Paris- the day also marked the birth anniversaries of Pakistan's Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sharif himself. Modi gifted Sharif's granddaughter an Indian dress as he met with Sharif's family members, including wife Kulsoom Nawaz. While Pakistan described it as a goodwill visit, the foreign ministry spokesperson said Modi was “infusing a positive spirit in the neighbourhood”. Pakistan foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary said that his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar would travel to Islamabad to carry forward the dialogue process. Agency reports said the talks will be on January 16. While Modi was accompanied by NSA Ajit Doval, foreign secretary S Jaishankar and other officials, Sharif had his foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary by his side.

“The two sides decided to collectively work towards the common goal of fighting poverty and increase people to people contact in order to open new avenues for peace and mutual cooperation between the two neighbouring countries,” Chaudhary said. Leaders of Pakistan's main opposition parties also welcomed Modi's visit. Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, said he had also invited the Indian PM to Pakistan during his recent visit to India. He said frequent meetings between the heads of the two states would have a positive impact on bilateral relations. “Improvement in Pakistan-India ties is inevitable for sustainable peace in the region,” Khan said.

The Indian PM later tweeted that he was personally touched by Sharif's gesture of receiving and seeing him off at the airport. In another tweet he said he spent a warm evening at Sharif's home and that his birthday and his granddaughter Mehrunissa's wedding made it a double celebration.

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