ISLAMABAD:It was early November when last exchange of firing occurred between Pakistan and India along the Line of Control (LoC), and only a month later, the Indian Prime Minister was in Lahore to wish his Pakistani counterpart a very “Happy Birthday”.
A surprise visit, planned meeting or a tactful diplomatic move to counter international pressure are the points being pondered by the Pakistani and Indian media and analysts.
However despite the confusion surrounding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unscheduled visit to Lahore on a gazette holiday, when the nation was celebrating the birth anniversary of founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the event has set positive vibes.
Indian Prime Minister in tweet on social media said he was in Lahore to wish his Pakistani counterpart happy birthday and said it was a double celebration as it was also his granddaughter’s marriage.
Modi said he “spent a warm evening with Sharif family at their family home” and said was touched with Nawaz Sharif’s gesture of personally welcoming at the airport.
Pakistani analysts attributed the sudden mood change of Modi to the international pressure and the three dossiers handed over to the UN, giving details of Indian involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan and Karachi.
While the Indian skeptics see it an effort by Modi to resurrect his political popularity and aura,after a series of setbacks in home ground.
Although no big promises were made, however the meeting at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s private residence at Jati Umra, did set the ball rolling for a meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries in mid January.
Prime Minister Sharif described Modi’s visit as goodwill gesture and was optimist that it would improve Pakistan-India ties in the days ahead.
He hoped the spirit generated would continue to prevail as “goodwill gestures were solution to many an ills.”
The Foreign Secretary in a statement said both the leaders expressed their desire to carry forward the dialogue process in larger interest of peoples of the two countries.
“The two Prime Ministers agreed to continue and enhance contacts and work together to establish good neighborly relations.”
Modi’s Lahore meeting with Sharif follows their brief huddle in Paris on the sidelines of the Climate Summit, where they agreed on a meeting of their National Security Advisors.
Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj who was in Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference after meeting Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs announced the holding of a Comprehensive Dialogue.
It would include matters related to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.
All eyes are now set for the mid January meeting to see how things move forward. Only time will tell if the Modi-Nawaz meeting at Lahore is able to achieve some strategic success, rather than mere tactical gains.
The talks between the two countries have been canceled twice in the past 18 months and the Foreign Secretaries and their leaders need to keep in view the written reply submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Senate in November that pointed to the martyrdom of 87 civilians and injuries to 407 due to Indian ceasefire violations.
The skirmishes at the Line of Control and the Working Boundary occurred between January 1, 2010 to October 22, 2015 and if meaningful talks are not held, the numbers might go up.
The year 2015 ends with a positive note for Pakistan and India however sincere efforts need to be taken before the two countries can make real progress in addressing the lingering issues and move forward.