With Modi at the Helm, Pakistan Begins Back-channel Diplomacy with BJP
High Commissioner tries to convey Pak’s willingness for ‘meaningful engagement’ with new govt
DIPANJAN ROY CHAUDHURY
Pakistan has begun back-channel diplomacy with the Narendra Modiled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gover nment as its High Commissioner Abdul Basit quietly got in touch with members of the saffron party, days ahead of the sweari ng i n. Basi t t r i e d t o c o nve y Pakistan’s willingness for ‘meaningful engagement’ with the new government, sources in the Pakistan government told ET. Basit conveyed a message on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ’s government that it was ready for a ‘new beginning’ with the BJP-led government, sources informed. It may be recalled that Sharif had called up Narendra Modi within hours of his resounding victory, and invited him to Islamabad. The High Commissioner told BJP leaders that the Pakistan government was pursuing a policy of ‘eco- nomic development and peaceful neighbourhood’, sources said, adding that Basit has also received a positive feedback. According to Sharif ’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, BJP’s victory in Lok Sabha by a majority margin could help Delhi take ‘decisive and positive’ steps. It may be recalled that one of Modi’s emissaries in the USA contacted Aziz with few rounds of voting still left. Islamabad is optimistic about its future relationship with India as the BJP’s manifesto focused on economy and sought good ties with its neighbours, sources said. However, Modi, during one of his interviews had made it clear that terror and dialogue cannot go hand-in-hand. While there are expectations that Modi would continue India’s broad engagement with Pakistan, he would respond firmly if any cross-border terror attack is orchestrated or ceasefire along the LoC is violated. It may be recalled that during the last BJP government, bus service between India and Pakistan was launched. Besides, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee hosted Pervez Musharraf during the Agra Summit in 2001, and later travelled to Islamabad for the SAARC Summit in January 2004.
optimistic about its future relationship with India as BJP manifesto focused on economy & sought good ties with its neighbours
Modi’s emissaries in US contacted Sartaj Aziz, Sharif’s Adviser on National Security & Foreign Affairs, during polls