PM gets blunt, asks Sharif to shut terror tap

Tags: News

Tells Pak to speed up trial of Mumbai terror accused

Narendra Modi on Tuesday flagged terrorism and violence from across the border as twin impediments in normalising trade and economic relations with Pakistan.

On his first day as prime minister, Narendra Modi asked his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif to take steps not allowing use of its territory for carrying out terrorist acts against India and speed up trial of 2008 Mumbai terror accused, including Hafeez Syed.

Modi and Sharif met at the Hyderabad House for over 45 minutes, a day after the glittering ceremony in which the former took charge as India’s 15th prime minister. Sharif was here at the invitation of Modi to witness his swearing-in ceremony.

From Pakistan’s point of view, Nawaz Sharif stated Islamabad’s well-known position: accusations and counter-accusations will not be productive for both sides.

Apart from niceties, both Modi and Sharif seem to have got down to business, attempted at gauging and sizing up each other. Both sides kept postponing the media briefings to have the last word on the bilateral meetings.

Nawaz Sharif told newsmen, “it (the meeting with Modi) was a historic opportunity and instead of confrontation both sides should turn the situation into one of cooperation”.

On the other hand, unconfirmed reports suggested that India sought extradition of underground don Dawood Ibrahim who was apparently sheltered in Pakistan. The issue assumed significance on a day when Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai reportedly confirmed that Dawood was present in Pakistan.

At a later news conference, India’s foreign secretary Sujata Singh did not mention the Dawood issue, neither was she willing to be drawn into whether another Taliban heavy weight Mullah Omar was in Pakistan. But, she clearly confirmed that ‘terrorism and violence’ from across the border were serious concerns for India.

The Tuesday meeting was not without any gains. The two sides agreed on opening the Wagah–Attari border to resume trade in goods and services between two countries. The roadmap laid down in 2012 between the two sides will be the starting point to move towards normalising economic and trade ties.

Foreign secretaries from India and Pakistan will meet shortly to decide on way forward on issues discussed between Modi and Sharif. The two sides may also decide on a possible Narendra Modi visit to Pakistan as the latter has accepted ‘in-principle’ an invitation from Nawaz Sharif.

Both sides also seem to have agreed on moving ahead along with other South Asia neighbours to expand and enhance economic, political and cultural relations.

According to officials, the Modi-Sharif meeting was held in most cordial and warm atmosphere, notwithstanding differences between the two sides.

“Being their first meeting, they were simultaneously trying know each other better, state their positions and see if they could move forward,” said an official privy to the India–Pakistan bilateral meeting.

Ajit Doval, prime minister’s national security adviser did his best to lie low while the new external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and foreign secretary Sujata Singh took active part in the deliberations.

Apart from the tricky meeting with Nawaz Sharif, Narendra Modi had a hectic first day with six rounds of bilateral meetings with five other Saarc leaders and the president of Mauritius, all of which were described as going off as per expectations.

Narendra Modi used the meeting with Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai to get first hand detailed account of the recent terrorist attack on Indian consulate at Herat.

On the other hand, Bhutan prime minister Tshering Tobgay seems to have updated Narendra Modi on work commencing on four joint venture hydro-electric projects with a total capacity of 2120 mw in Bhutan.

In the meeting with Maldives president Abdulla Yameen, Narendra Modi agreed to collaborate in oil exploration, tourism and education apart from transport and connectivity.

Prime minister Modi and his Mauritius counterpart Navinchandra Ramgoolam have agreed to push for development of renewable energy projects, blue-economy, infrastructure apart from working closely at the Indian Ocean Rim Conference.

Modi mooted rail and road connectivity with Nepal in his meeting with prime minister Sushil Koirala as a first step towards achieving Saarc connectivity.

The meeting between Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rapaksha and Modi appeared less publicised, but it was billed as a significant initiative to restore dignity for Sri Lanka’s ‘Tamil population’ in Sri Lanka apart from quickly realising the 500 mw Sampur power project.

The get together between Modi and Bangladesh speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was more of a ‘meet and greet’ affair by external affairs ministry officials. But, India attaches importance to Bangladesh as its largest trading partner in South Asia. Here again rail and road connectivity come up for discussion.

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