Sharif hails PM Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore, says "high time" India-Pak set aside their hostilities

News Bharati English    31-Dec-2015

Islamabad, December 31: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said it is "high time" India and Pakistan set aside their hostilities even as he expressed confidence that the spirit of goodwill generated by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi's visit to Lahore will persist.

"The Indian Prime Minister came to Lahore and gave us his few hours. It is high time the countries put aside their hostilities," Sharif said. "Goodwill gestures are the solution to many an ill," he told reporters at Zhob airport in Balochistan. Sharif also thanked PM Narendra Modi for visiting Lahore last week.

PM Modi had sprung a surprise when he visited Lahore on the occasion of Sharif's 66th birthday and his granddaughter's wedding on December 25.

"It has been agreed that we will restart the dialogue between Pakistan and India," Sharif said, adding that "progress is being made in bilateral negotiations with India".

The Pakistan premier's comments came a day after his adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on January 14-15 to prepare a schedule of meeting for the comprehensive dialogue covering Jammu and Kashmir and other issues.

Sharif also expressed optimism that India-Pakistan ties would improve in the days ahead and the "spirit of goodwill generated with Modi's visit will continue to prevail".

The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet on January 14-15 to prepare a schedule of meeting for the comprehensive dialogue, adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Tuesday though he cautioned against "unrealistic expectations" from the talks.

Aziz made a policy statement in the Senate regarding the short visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Pakistan on December 25. Aziz said the visit of PM Modi was a goodwill visit and it has been welcomed by majority of people in Pakistan and India and the international community.

He said now the two leaders have met at least five times and the warmth of relations created by the Lahore meeting would hopefully have an impact on the formal dialogue.

"The foreign secretaries would meet on January 14-15 and draw up a map for the next six months for talks on 10 identified subjects," he said.

He said the dialogue process is challenging as it involves difficult decisions and important issues. He also cautioned against unrealistic expectations from the dialogue process and said there would be progress on some issues soon while it will take time for progress on others.

Aziz dispelled the impression that the entourage of Prime Minister Modi visited Lahore without any visa.He said PM Modi and 11 of his personal staff members were given a 72-hour visa, and the full immigration process was followed in this regard.

Responding to a point raised by leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan, Aziz said no secret meeting was held between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan at Kathmandu last year.

Replying to points raised by other members, Aziz said "India changed its hostile attitude towards Pakistan because of our constructive diplomacy, international pressure and domestic lobbies in India".