- Maryam says the meeting should not be blown out of proportion
- PPP, PTI submit adjournment motions to Senate, Punjab Assembly
Amid diplomatic tiff between Pakistan and India over Kulbhushan Jhadav, the secret arrival of an Indian delegation led by business tycoon Sajjan Jindal and their unannounced meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz in Murree has stirred a political storm in the post-Panama verdict mess.
While rumours were rife of a possible backchannel operating between Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India, Mariam Nawaz on twitter confirmed the meeting, giving a new life to the speculations about the discreet Indian efforts for a safe rescue of Jhadav.
A source privy to the development said that Indian delegation conveyed a message of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Background efforts are afoot to pave the way for a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The move has full backing from Washington while Beijing would also welcome the move,” the sources said.
However, no government official was ready to speak over the meeting on record. The SCO is an emerging economic and security alliance and both Pakistan and India became members last year.
Tensions resurfaced between Pakistan and India following the death sentence awarded to Jhadav after a court martial. Only weeks before Jhadav’s sentence, Pakistan Army’s Lieutenant Colonel (r) Habib Zahir went missing in Nepal’s city bordering India. Habib had been offered a job through social media application and later he was invited for an interview in Nepal.
Later, investigations revealed the abduction was a handiwork of Indian intelligence agents as all individuals who received Habib Zahir or arranged his travel arrangements turned out to be Indian nationals.
Sundaram Chaurasia, an Indian journalist, also confirmed the meeting between PM Sharif and Jindal. He added that PM Sharif and Jindal were partners in steel business and friends too.
Per reports, Sajjan Jindal and his two colleagues, Suket Singhal and Virender Babar Singh, arrived here on a special plane from Kabul on Wednesday and directly left for Murree by road in three vehicles to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The delegation had a clandestine meeting with the premier without any official handout.
Sajjan Jindal is known for close relations with both Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi. He had been instrumental in breaking the ice between the two last year, when Modi, despite tensions had visited the residence of PM Sharif to attend the wedding ceremony of Maryam Nawaz’s daughter last year.
Two major opposition parties, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have submitted adjournment motions to the Senate and Punjab Assembly regarding the meeting amid tensions on borders and Indian oppression in Kashmir.
Voicing reservations over arrival of the delegation, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said that PTI was concerned over the secret meeting with Indian ‘shady’ characters. He said that the nation knows that PM Sharif has business relations with Indians, but this meeting’s timing is intriguing and we want answers from the government. He said that it was not a mere coincidence that the delegation visited Pakistan while the news leak scandal report had just arrived.
Separately, PTI leader and opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed tabled a resolution demanding the government to make the meeting’s agenda and discussion public.
Daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, tweeted on Thursday that Sajjan Jindal is an old friend of the prime minister and there was “nothing secret about the meeting” between the two. She also said that the meeting between the two should not be blown out of proportion.