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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

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

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