Lahore (Pakistan): Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal has met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to Islamabad, triggering speculation in Pakistani media over revival of bilateral talks amid strains in ties. The meeting between Sharif and Jindal took place yesterday at the premier’s private residence in the country’s hill station Murree, about 45 kms from Islamabad.
After opposition parties created an uproar over the “secret” meeting, Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif said there was nothing secret about the meeting. “Mr. Jindal is an old friend of the Prime Minister. Nothing ‘secret’ about the meeting & should not be blown out of proportion. Thank you,” Maryam tweeted.
The family members of Sharif received Jindal at the Islamabad airport after he come from Afghanistan. Jindal was later escorted to Murree in an official protocol where he had an hour-long meeting with the prime minister.
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf (PTI) alleged that “Sharif had a secret meeting in which Jindal conveyed the message of India’s Prime Minister Narendera Modi to Sharif over the issue of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been awarded death sentence by a Pakistani military court”. Meanwhile, a resolution was today submitted in Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly against the “secret” meeting of Sharif and Jindal.
Punjab Assembly Opposition leader Mian Mahmoodur Rashid submitted the resolution in the assembly, saying Sharif held a “secret” meeting with a three-member Indian delegation led by businessman Jindal in Murree.
“Jindal brought the message of Modi (which seems to be about Kulbhushan Jadhav). The people of Pakistan should be told as why the premier kept his meeting with Jindal secret. What was the purpose of this meeting at a time when India is bent upon isolating Pakistan in the world,” the resolution said.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said: “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will have to tell the people as why he felt the need to hold a secret meeting with an Indian businessman”. Jindal is said to be the man behind arranging a meeting between Modi and Sharif in Lahore on December 25 in 2015 on the occasion of Sharif’s birthday and the marriage his grand daughter Mehr-un-Nisa.
There are strains in ties between India and Pakistan over cross-border terror attacks in India and the death sentence of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a military court on spying charges. India has denied Pakistan’s contention and maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped by Pakistan’s agencies.