Two states, one song
In a significant statement released to the media before departing from Delhi, Sharif also held out a message for his detractors. Referring to his bilateral discussion with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, held at the Deccan Suite of the majestic Hyderabad House overlooking the India Gate, Sharif said: ‘We agreed that our meeting in New Delhi should be a historic opportunity for both our countries. I pointed out that we were at the beginning of our respective tenures, with a clear mandate.’
Stating that he came with a clear mandate, Sharif through the message told his nation’s military leadership that it was he who enjoyed the people’s confidence and that the significant gradient in the roadmap for peace with India would be well-being of the people. ‘This (the talks) provides us the opportunity of meeting the hopes and aspirations of our peoples that we will succeed in turning a new page in our relations. The one and a half billion people of the two countries want us to focus on their well-being and welfare,’ Sharif said.
Having visited Vajpayee after his talks with Modi, the Pak premier made clear that he wanted to pick the threads of talks from the Lahore Declaration. ‘I intended to pick up the threads of the Lahore Declaration, from where it had to be left off in October 1999.’ Sharif had lost power in October 1999 following an army coup led by Gen Pervez Musharraf. Thereafter India, Pakistan has not really returned to normalcy in their relationship.
Addressing the media persons, after foreign secretary Sujatha Singh had briefed media on behalf of New Delhi, Sharif said, ‘I stressed to Prime Minister Modi that we have a common agenda of development and economic revival, which is not possible to achieve without peace and stability in the region… . it was important for us to work together for peace, progress and prosperity. Finally, I urged that we had to strive to change confrontation into cooperation.’
Adding to the tone of reconciliation, he further said, ‘Engaging in accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive, after all, we owe it to our people to overcome the legacy of mistrust and misgivings.’
‘Prime Minister Modi warmly reciprocated my sentiments and remarked that my visit to New Delhi was seen as a special gesture by the people of India. He stated that it was incumbent on both of us to work together, to achieve our common objectives for peace and development. I take leave of this historic city. I do so with a strong sense that the leaderships and the peoples of our two countries share desire and mutual commitment to carry forward our relationship, for the larger good of our peoples,’ Sharif added.
Modi and Sharif agreed that the foreign secretaries of the two countries will be in touch to see how to move forward on bilateral relations. Briefing the media on the meeting between the two leaders, Sujatha Singh said, ‘Prime minister raised India’s concerns relating to terrorism. He remarked that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent territory of Pakistan and the territory under its control used to spread terrorism in India.’ Modi also hoped that necessary steps will be taken to expedite trial in Pakistan relating to Mumbai terror attack case.