While the surprise brief visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the private residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Jaati Umra, Raiwind on Friday had re kindled hopes for revival of the peace process between arch rivals India and Pakistan; several political leaders and analysts believed that serious and continuous engagement is needed from both sides to resolve all outstanding disputes between the two countries.
Such personal and informal meetings don’t solve the problems. But definitely, such personal engagements help in improving the political environment for dialogue. They also lower the level of tensions and create enabling environment to revive dialogue process.
The world powers know that both India and Pakistan have developed smart nuclear arms, which might be put to use in case of war, so there has been immense pressure on India to engage with Pakistan.
Commenting on Modi’s visit, Air Marshal (r) Shahid Latif told a private news channel that personal engagements between both the Prime Ministers reflect that personal agendas are being given preference over national interests.
Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah said that it would have been better if the Indian PM had visited Pakistan for a scheduled meeting.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu stopover at Lahore on Friday to wish Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday caught everybody off guard.
The BJP PR machinery has called it a historic break from the rigid, protocol-driven relations between India and Pakistan.
India and Pakistan, on the other hand, have never managed any depth in their economic relations.
India has troubled borders with both Pakistan and China, he points out, yet it has a robust economic relationship with China.
The visit is being talked up as a diplomatic breakthrough, possibly as big as former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bus journey in 1999.
The visit is indicative of the personal rapport between the two prime ministers, which augurs well for working a positive trajectory in bilateral relations.
A preparatory process needs to be initiated to identify and build on convergences and to narrow down divergences. The forthcoming SAARC Summit could provide an opportunity for such a path-charting development in bilateral relations.
But the real challenge will be to work things between institutions and take it from the stratosphere (the elite) to the ground (people) level, if it’s to make a difference.
The challenge for the two prime ministers would be to ensure that their respective governments, particularly the institutions directly concerned, deliver on the promise of a better future and the concept of shared destiny.
Diplomacy and true statesmanship is to find common ground with an eye on the future, and sincere commitment to the welfare of people.
China presents an excellent example, a model in managing external relations. Both Pakistan and India could learn a lot from Chinese wisdom, diplomatic acumen, reasonableness and strategic foresight.
Parliaments could also play a catalytic role, and so should the media. Both will have to drive the relations through their respective institutions.