“Ab yahan ana jana laga rahey ga (Now such trips will continue to take place),” Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly told his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during a surprise visit to Lahore on his way home from Kabul.
Modi, who stayed for more than two hours in Lahore on Friday, asked Sharif when the Pakistani premier introduced him to family members: “Aap ka sara pariwar yahan rahta hai (Do all members of your family stay here?).”
A source privy to the chat told PTI on Saturday that Sharif replied, “Yes, some 70 to 80 family members stay here.”
Modi took the world by surprise by announcing in a tweet from Kabul that he would “drop by” in Lahore to greet Sharif on his 66th birthday.
After Modi landed in Lahore, the two leaders flew to Sharif’s palatial residence at Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore in a helicopter, making it the first time that any leaders of the two countries travelled together.
“Modi said ab to yahan ana jana laga rahey ga (Modi said that now such trips will continue to take place),” the source said.
To this, Sharif asked, “Why not this is your house?”
Sharif introduced his mother to Modi, who touched her feet. Modi presented sarees and other gifts to Sharif on the occasion of the wedding of his granddaughter Mehrun Nisa, the source said.
The two leaders spent about 80 minutes together during which Modi also greeted members of Sharif’s family.
The first visit by an Indian premier in 11 years marked another step forward by the two countries in their efforts to put their ties on an even keel.
Modi and Sharif “expressed their desire to carry forward the dialogue process for larger good of peoples of the two countries” and also agreed to “continue and enhance contacts and work together to establish good neighborly relations”, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson tweeted after the visit.
Modi tweeted he was “personally touched by Nawaz Sharif Sahab ‘s gesture of welcoming me at Lahore airport and coming to the airport when I left”.
He also said he had spent a “warm evening with Sharif family at their family home” and that Sharif’s “birthday & granddaughter’s marriage made it a double celebration”.