The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party on Friday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden decision to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on his way back from a brief visit to Afghanistan and sought an explanation over the ‘change of heart’.
“If the decision is not preposterous then it is utterly ridiculous. This adventure of PM Modi is going to have serious implications on India’s national security,” senior Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI.
“PM’s misadventure to Lahore is worst manifestation of Spectecalisation of Diplomacy Last time Vajpayee went to Lahore Kargil!this time what?” he later wrote on Twitter.
Modi will meet the Pakistani PM for the third time since their talks on the margins of the SCO Summit in the Russian city of Ufa in July, marking an uptick in high-level bilateral contacts following a prolonged freeze in ties.
Tewari’s party colleague Ajoy Kumar also questioned whether relations with Pakistan has improved so much that Modi is meeting Sharif without taking the country into confidence.
Congress’ Priyanka Chaturvedi and Sanjay Jha were more acerbic in their reactions with Chaturvedi saying there is no method in Modi’s plans but only “mess-ness.”
“I think he is going to Pak keeping his fans wishes in mind over disrespect to the national anthem. Taking the ‘go to Pakistan’ literally,” Chaturvedi tweeted.
“I am waiting with baited breath for the opinion of BJP ally Shiv Sena on Modi Ji’s Lahore stopover. #JumlaInPakistan #ModiToadies,” Jha wrote on Twitter.
The AAP’s Ashutosh said his party has always encouraged engagement with the neighbouring country but it was the BJP which had opposed it and sought an explanation for the sudden change of heart.
“It’s BJP/Modi who has been opposing talks with Pak during Manmohan time under the pretext of Pak sponsored terrorism. What has changed now? ... Now they should explain- Itna Yaarana kyun lag raha hai Modi ji?” the senior AAP leader said in a series of tweets.
क्या पाकिस्तान ने आतंकवाद पूरी तरह से बंद कर दिया है कि प्रधानमंत्री मोदी जी को नवाज़ शरीफ़ पर इतना प्यार दुलार आ रहा है ???— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) December 25, 2015
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, too, was critical.
“Now waiting for the statement from J&K Govt claiming that Mufti Syed was the one who forced PM Modi to visit Lahore today,” Abdullah tweeted.
Indo-Pak relations have been plagued by knee-jerk reactions & a lack of consistency. Looking towards two PMs to correct this this time.— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) December 25, 2015
Modi, who flew into Kabul on Friday morning for a previously unannounced visit to inaugurate Afghanistan’s new parliament built by India, announced his plans to visit Lahore on Twitter.
“Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” he tweeted.
“Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif & wished him on his birthday,” he said in another tweet.
Television news channels were quick to dub the development “birthday diplomacy”. Besides being Sharif’s birthday, December 25 is also the birth anniversary of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj appreciated Modi’s decision to stop at Lahore and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s spokesperson Nalin Kohli welcomed the move.
“That’s like a statesman. Padosi se aise hi rishte hone chahiyen,” Swaraj posted on Twitter.
Kohli told ANI that better relations with Pakistan are in the interest of the region and that India will keep raising its concerns as well.
“If two countries can try to work out a relation that brings peace not only between them but entire region is something to be welcomed,” Kohli said.