NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan was panned by some opposition parties, welcomed by the BJP but was met with apprehensions by its allies. The BJP hailed Modi’s stopover in Lahore to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif, terming it a “path-breaking” departure from “protocol-driven” politics.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj set the tone for BJP spokespersons and party leaders on the line to take, as the party in the past has attacked Pakistan and opposed all moves to open dialogue with the neighbouring country unless it stopped terror. Swaraj termed Modi’s action as statesman-like and later briefed party spokespersons on the nuances of the visit. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said the two neighbours needed to inject informality in their relations, as is the case in many places of the world such as the European Union and the ASEAN.
“PM Modi’s sudden stopover at Lahore to greet Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif is a much needed departure from protocol-driven politics between the two countries... What better day than the birthday of Atalji for this path-breaking departure!” Madhav tweeted.
BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said Modi had sent out a message about closer regional cooperation when he had taken the oath of office and his visit should be welcomed.
However, BJP allies, the Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), questioned if Modi’s visit to Pakistan would lead to any effective action against cross-border terrorism as well as against terror masterminds like Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. “Will Dawood Ibrahim be given to India after today’s meeting? If this happens, we welcome this visit,” Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut said in Mumbai. VHP international working president Pravin Togadia said, in a statement issued in Allahabad, “Whatever may be the reasons behind the Prime Minister’s surprise visit to Lahore, we hope that his tour of Pakistan leads to effective action by the neighboring country against terrorists operating from their soil.”
“Pakistan is also the land where 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused and underworld Dawood Ibrahim has been hiding for more than two decades. The neighboring country has so far been in a state of denial in this regard... We hope that our dashing and dynamic PM Modiji’s intervention will bring about a radical change,” Togadia said.