Pakistani opposition 'concerned' over Jindal, Sharif meeting

Indo Asian News Service

Islamabad, April 28 (IANS) Opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has moved a resolution in the Punjab assembly airing its concern over the meeting between Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Jindal, who is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and now on a visit to Pakistan, met Sharif at the hill resort town of Murree on Thursday.

The meeting triggered speculations in Pakistan with several politicians and analysts suggesting it could be the precursor to a possible meeting between Modi and Sharif in the near future, Dawn News reported.

The opposition parties were angry over the government's decision to keep Jindal's visit as well as the meeting a "secret".

A PTI resolution expressed grave concern over the meeting which was mentioned by the media but got official confirmation only when Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz tweeted about it.

"Jindal is an old friend of the Prime Minister. Nothing 'secret' about the meeting and should not be blown out of proportion. Thank you," she wrote.

According to analysts, the visit by Jindal, who also has friendly relations with Sharif, could be part of backchannel contacts to improve relations between the two countries.

Informed sources said it was not possible for the head of the JSW Group to visit Pakistan without prior knowledge of Indian intelligence services.

Former Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri described the controversy stirred up by the visit as unfortunate, saying that just because it was part of some backchannel diplomacy, it should not be rejected outright.

He said that some of the best results were achieved due to backchannel contacts between India and Pakistan.

According to the media, Jindal and his delegation arrived at Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday morning and were received by Sharif's son Hussain Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz's son-in-law Raheel Munir.

The resolution said a three-member delegation led by Jindal was taken to Murree under official protocol.

It said the timing of the meeting was a cause of concern as relations between the two nations dipped further in the wake of the death sentence awarded to Kulbhushan Jadhav.

"In these circumstances, Modi's close aide's (Jindal) meeting with [the] Pakistani Prime Minister has sent a wave of restlessness among [the] masses," the resolution said.

--IANS

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