ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the impression that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was “charge-sheeted” during his visit to India, Pakistan on Wednesday described the tour as reflective of “dignified diplomacy”, which “went well beyond the expectations”.
“The meeting was much better than expected,” stated Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz while sharing the details of the prime minister’s two-day visit to India with the media. He was referring to the meeting between the two countries’ prime ministers on Tuesday. “We did not expect much from the outcome of this visit but it went beyond our expectations,” Aziz said in response to a query.
He said the prime minister undertook this visit with a clear vision in mind, based on strategic calculation and “not just for a photo-op”. “In order to make this vision a reality, the starting point was for economic revival and development. … Both the leaders agreed that they had the mandate and their respective tenures ahead of them to meet the hope and aspirations of one and half billion people of the two countries.”
Faced with an array of pressing queries suggesting that the Pakistani premier took a lenient view on what is being termed as an “aggressive diplomacy” on part of his Indian counterpart, Aziz said, “It was dignified diplomacy. The issues were discussed in cordial atmosphere, and both sides shared their views.” Media reports have made headlines that the Indian prime minister talked “tough” with the Pakistani premier on the thorny issues, especially cross-border terrorism and the Mumbai attacks.
Responding to these reports, Sartaj Aziz said, “There are media reports that they (India) handed over a charge-sheet to the PM. This is not correct. The visit was ceremonial in nature and we discussed the issues in an appropriate manner.”
The adviser said the issue of Kashmir was discussed during the meet-up. “The issue was raised and to say that Kashmir was sidelined is not correct. Pakistan has a clear stance on Kashmir as without its resolution the objective of long-lasting peace could not be achieved.”
On the issue of terrorism, he said, “The prime minister informed his Indian counterpart that terrorism was a mutual concern and Pakistan had suffered enormously from this menace. The people and government of Pakistan are serious and committed to fighting terrorism in their own national interest.” “Questions have now been raised on whether the issue of Mumbai trial, Samjhota Express and other terrorist attacks were discussed. As you all are aware, all aspects of terrorism have been discussed at different levels in our region. We believe that such issues can be handled only through constant interaction between the concerned authorities of the two countries. Brief discussion also took place on trade and other confidence building measures.”
When asked about the timeframe regarding the Indian PM’s visit to Pakistan on the request of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the government functionary said, the dates would be worked soon. He said the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan would meet on mutually convenient dates.
Expressing the mutual desire of the two sides to make up to each other, Aziz said, “Although the government was only one-day old, the Indian prime minister recognised the need for a dialogue process to address all bilateral issues that stand in the way of the good relations between the two countries. The prime minister agreed that it was a historic opportunity for both the countries to mark a new beginning in bilateral ties. Both felt the need to turn a new page in our relations.”
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