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Pak, Indian PMs vow to carry forward dialogue process

LAHORE, 26 DEC (DNA) – The Pakistani and Indian prime ministers met in Lahore and “expressed their desire to carry forward the dialogue process for larger good of peoples of the two countries,” the foreign ministry spokesman said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an over-two-hour unscheduled visit to Pakistan that was seen very important as relationship warmed up in recent weeks.

“The two prime ministers agreed to continue and enhance contacts and work together to establish good neighborly relations,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said at the conclusion of one-and-a-half hour meeting at the residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Indian prime minister had a stopover in Pakistan on his way back to New Delhi from a visit to Afghanistan where he inaugurated the India-funded parliament building.

It was Modi’s first visit to Pakistan and the first by any Indian prime minister in 12 years. “Prime Minister of Pakistan welcomed the initiative of the Prime Minister of India to visit Lahore,” Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said.

Modi’s visit was seen very important ahead of the resumption of the official dialogue between the two countries next month after a break of nearly eight year. The “Composite Dialogue” will restart after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, who attended the meeting, said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere and both sides agreed to build trust and increase cooperation. “It was a goodwill visit and the two sides decided to understand each other’s reservations and restart the comprehensive dialogue in a positive manner,” Chaudhry told reporters after the meeting.

 He said the two prime ministers also underlined the need to boost people-to-people contacts and to work for the reduction of poverty. It was the second meeting of the two prime ministers in a month. They had a brief but ice-breaking meeting in Paris on Nov. 30 on the sidelines of the climate change summit.

The Indian prime minister’s visit had a positive impact in Pakistan and the opposition parties in Pakistan welcomed the visit and hoped that it will help in reducing tensions. The media also came up with a positive response and the analysts during TV debates appreciated both prime ministers for adopting the path of negotiations.

Chairman of the main opposition of Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto, welcomed Modi’s visit.  “Constant engagement is the only way to resolve all outstanding issues,” Bilawal said on his official Twitter.

The other opposition Pakistan Tehrike-e-Insaf (PTI) party also welcomed the Indian prime minister’s visit as a positive step that will improve relations. “It is a good gesture. It is historic and a good progress. I am confident the visit will reduce tensions,” Shafqat Mehmood, a leader of PTI, said.

A senior political analyst Imtiaz Gul said that improved relations of Pakistan and India will help in economic development and regional connectivity.

Gul, head of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies, said that tension-free Pak-India ties would be helpful for the implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project. He said Pakistan and India should also enhance contacts for peace in Afghanistan.

Modi surprised many in the world when he announced that he will meet Sharif during his stopover in Pakistan. “Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” the Indian prime minister said on Twitter during his visit to Kabul.

Earlier Modi also wished Sharif on his birthday that is celebrated on Dec. 25. “Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif & wished him on his birthday,” the Indian prime minister said in another Twitter message. DNA

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