Millennium Post

High time to set aside hostilities, says Sharif

“Indian Prime Minister came to Lahore and gave us his a few hours. It is high time the countries put aside their hostilities,” Sharif said at an event on Wednesday.

“Goodwill gestures are the solution to many an ill,” he told reporters at Zhob airport in Balochistan.

Sharif also thanked Modi for visiting Lahore last week.

Modi had sprung a surprise when he visited Lahore on the occasion of Sharif’s 66th birthday and his granddaughter’s wedding on December 25.

“It has been agreed that we will re-start the dialogue between Pakistan and India,” Sharif said, adding that “progress is being made in bilateral negotiations with India”.

The Pakistan premier’s comments came a day after his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on January 14-15 to prepare a schedule of meeting for the comprehensive dialogue covering Jammu and Kashmir and other issues.

Sharif also expressed optimism that India-Pakistan ties would improve in the days ahead and the “spirit of goodwill generated with Modi’s visit will continue to prevail”.

Earlier, the two Prime Ministers had met in Paris on November 30, on the sidelines of the Climate Change Summit. Their handshake and brief chat had paved the way for warmer ties.

December 25 visit came rapidly after the two nations resumed dialogue with a secret meeting between the national security advisors in Bangkok earlier this month.

Thereafter, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad for a multi-lateral meeting on Afghanistan, when she also met her Pakistani counterpart and Sharif. While many welcome the radical approach to ties with Pakistan away from the media glare and politics, the opposition has been deeply critical.

Sartaj Aziz, on the other hand, made a policy statement in the Senate on Tuesday regarding the short visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Pakistan on December 25.

“The Foreign Secretaries would meet on January 14-15 and draw up a map for the next six months for talks on 10 identified subjects,” he said. He said the dialogue process is challenging as it involves difficult decisions and important issues.

He also cautioned against “unrealistic expectations” from the dialogue process and said there would be progress on some issues soon while it will take time for progress on others. Aziz said the visit of Modi was a goodwill visit and it has been welcomed by majority of people in Pakistan and India and the international community.

He said now the two leaders have met at least five times and the warmth of relations created by the Lahore meeting would hopefully have an impact on the formal dialogue.

Aziz dispelled the impression that the entourage of the Indian Prime Minister visited Lahore without any visa.

He said Modi and 11 of his personal staff members were given a 72-hour visa, and the full immigration process was followed in this regard. Rest of the dignitaries who were part of the entourage stayed inside the airport and no foreigner was allowed to move out without a valid visa.

Responding to a point raised by leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan, Aziz said no secret meeting was held between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan at Kathmandu last year. 

Replying to points raised by other members, Aziz said “India changed its hostile attitude towards Pakistan because of our constructive diplomacy, international pressure and domestic lobbies in India”.
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