Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in the Pakistani city of Lahore Friday, where he is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. The surprise stopover, which comes just weeks after the two leaders met on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris, would be the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Pakistan in over a decade.
“Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” Modi, who is winding up his trip to Russia and Afghanistan, announced on Twitter.
Modi, who inaugurated a new parliament complex built with Indian help in the Afghan capital of Kabul Friday, also spoke with Sharif and wished him happy birthday.
I wish the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and pray that he remains in wonderful health.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 25, 2015
Details of the issues that will be discussed during the short visit — which India’s opposition Congress party criticized as irresponsible and “utterly ridiculous” — are still being worked out, a Pakistani official reportedly said.
PM's misadventure to Lahore is worst manifestation of Spectecalisation of Diplomacy Last time Vajpayee went to Lahore Kargil!this time what?
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) December 25, 2015
The two nations have fought three wars over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir since they gained independence from British rule in 1947. And, over the past year, relations between the two longtime foes — both nuclear-armed countries — have deteriorated following several clashes along the Line of Control. The LoC is the ceasefire line that has become the de facto border between India and Pakistan.
Both India and Pakistan have maintained a heavy military presence along the LoC since a fragile truce was reached in 2003. However, frequent violations of the tenuous ceasefire have been reported in the region, with each side accusing the other of firing first.
While India has, in the past, insisted that any future discussion should focus solely on Pakistan’s alleged support of terrorist groups, Pakistan has remained firm in its stand of including what it terms the disputed territorial status of Kashmir in any future talks.
During his speech at Afghanistan’s parliament earlier in the day, Modi — without referring directly to Pakistan, whom India accuses of tacitly supporting the Taliban — said that some had seen “sinister designs in our presence” in Afghanistan.
“There are some who did not want us to be here. There are others who were uneasy at the strength of our partnership. Some even tried to discourage us,” he said. “Terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan’s future or dictate the choices Afghans make. ... Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border.”
Modi, however, added that he hopes "Pakistan will become a bridge between South Asia and Afghanistan and beyond."