Jammu, December 26: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore has received mixed reactions from politicos across the country Political voices across India have expressed happiness, surprise and criticism as well. However, this visit, which marks a first by an Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan in the past decade, came as the surprise of the day and was welcomed by political leaders from across the spectrum in the state. Here is what they have to say:
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Chief Minister: I am delighted by PM Modi’s visit. I know it will further strengthen the bonds of friendship and usher in an era of peace and stability in the region. He also called it an evolutionary process and a step in the right direction which indicates that the Prime Minister of India is determined to enter into a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan.
I hope that the meeting between both the Prime Ministers will provide the much-needed momentum for a comprehensive bilateral dialogue for the peaceful resolution of all issues between the two countries. This initiative, besides being a great step for the improvement of bilateral relations, will also give an impetus to the concept of SAARC.
Nirmal Singh, Deputy Chief Minister: As we all know that our former PM, Sh. Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted to better relations with neighbours when he visited Lahore and Mr. Modi has taken the same initiative forward. It is indeed a very good gesture made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as we all want peace and friendship and I hope Pakistan should also respond on the same lines.
Though this unscheduled and unexpected visit of Modi to Pakistan has surprised one and all and it is being seen as a constructive approach by him to improve relations with Pakistan. The unfortunate incidents on the borders and at other places somehow derailed the peace process but we know that talks and dialogue is the only way forward. We have to address all outstanding issues this way only.
Omar Abdullah, Former Chief Minister: The re-engagement with Pakistan is a good step and a very welcome development. However more than grand gestures, we need consistency. We also need to stay cautious about the ‘flip-flop’ nature of Indo-Pak engagements in the past.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Moderate Hurriyat leader: It is a good step. We welcome it. It is also in the interest of Kashmir that both India and Pakistan come forward. Though surprising, but Prime Minister Modi choosing Nawaz Sharif’s birthday and also Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday is a good gesture. In fact, nobody knew that Modi will choose this day to visit Pakistan which also indicates that the BJP-led government at New Delhi is trying to revisit the ex-PM’s doctrine. I hope that both nations would move forward and “devise a mechanism” to involve Kashmiris in the process.
Shabir Shah, General Secretary of the Hardline Hurriyat: We have never been against dialogue. Talking or meeting each other is always right but we believe that Kashmiris should also be included in the talks.