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Modi stuns all with surprise stopover in Lahore

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In yet another unannounced stopover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Lahore on his way back from Kabul this afternoon. The announcement of his visit was made by a tweet the PM put out towards the end of his >stay in Kabul.

“Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” the PM said in a tweet, shortly after he announced that he had spoken to PM Nawaz Sharif to wish him for his birthday.

The PM is in Lahore for about two hours before he leaves for Delhi. He met PM Sharif and his family at the airport in Lahore.

As it happened:

19.29: Modi departs from Pakistan; plane takes off from Lahore.

19.18: Nawaz Sharif sees Modi off at Lahore airport.

19.01: External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted, "After blessing the bride, PM departs Raiwind accompanied by PM Sharif who will see him off."

PTI adds:

Modi’s favourite dish ‘Saag’ was among other vegetarian delicacies prepared for him at Jati Umrah residence of Sharif.

“All dishes, including Saag, daal and vegetable food, were cooked in desi ghee,” a source in the Jati Umra told PTI.

He said Kashmiri tea was presented to the Indian premier.

Some 11 members of Modi’s delegation accompanied him to the Jati Umerah who were issued a 72-hour visa.

However, over 100 other members of the delegations stayed at the Allama Iqbal International Airport.

18.45: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed welcomed Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore, saying it is a step in the right direction.

Sayeed said he was delighted by Modi’s visit, which will further strengthen the bonds of friendship and usher in an era of peace and stability in the region. This is an “evolutionary process and step in the right direction”, he said. - PTI

18.35: Press Information Bureau tweeted this photo of the Prime Ministers:

Photo: Twitter/@PIB_India

18.11: An update from Press Information Bureau:





18.05: External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted, "In a first, both PMs flew together in chopper to Raiwind, home of PM Nawaz Sharif."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Photo: Twitter/@MEAIndia

17.50: Separatists in Srinagar welcomed Modi’s visit to Lahore, with moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq terming it “a positive move” and hardline faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani saying they have no objection to improved relations between India and Pakistan. - PTI

17.44: Modi meets the family members of Nawaz Sharif at the latter's residence.

17.30: It is Modi’s first visit to Pakistan, and the first trip by an Indian prime minister to the country in 11 years.

17.20: Opposition PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted: “Welcome to Pakistan @narendramodi. Constant engagement is the only way to resolve all outstanding issues.”

17.07: Modi leaves on a Pakistani chopper to Sharif's residence.

17.06: The Pakistan PM presented a bouquet to Modi as he flew into the Allama Iqbal International Airport from Kabul heading a 120-member delegation, Pakistan Television reported.

17.06: The Prime Ministers hug each other; it is PM Sharif's birthday and his grand-daughter's wedding is this weekend.

17.05: Modi received by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Lahore airport.

16.55: Narendra Modi lands in Lahore, first since PM Vajpayee took the bus there since 1999, and first visit by a PM to Pakistan since 2004.

Earlier Suhasini Haidar reported:

In yet another unannounced stopover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is landing in Lahore on his way back from Kabul this afternoon. The announcement of his visit was made by a tweet the PM put out towards the end of his >stay in Kabul.

“Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” The PM said in a tweet, shortly after he announced that he had spoken to PM Nawaz Sharif to wish him for his birthday.





The PM is in Lahore for about two hours before he leaves for Delhi. He is >meeting with PM Sharif and his family at the airport in Lahore, officials said. PM Sharif’s grand-daughter is getting married tomorrow, and Mr. Modi is expected to convey his greetings and possibly take part in the festivities there.

Sources say the PM had decided to visit Kabul a few weeks ago, once it was made clear that the parliament building would be ready in time for the PM’s visit on his way back from Moscow, but that the visit was kept a secret for security reasons.

However, the addition of the Lahore stopover was made only last week, after the resumption of dialogue was announced between the two sides during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad. Tweeting about the PM’s visit, Ms. Swaraj wrote: “This is how ties with neighbours should be”.

Earlier this morning, PM Modi landed in Kabul and met with President Ashraf Ghani.





After talks at the presidential palace both leaders went to the Parliament building, inaugurating a block in the name of Former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, >whose birthday, by co-incidence also falls today. “This Parliament Complex is a small tribute to your progress as a nation and a democracy,” Mr. Modi told a specially held session of parliament. Before leaving Kabul he also met with CEO of Afghanistan Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Modi’s visit to Pakistan is the first by an Indian PM since 2004, when PM Vajpayee travelled to Islamabad for the SAARC summit. He is also the first PM to visit Lahore since Mr. Vajpayee travelled on board the Lahore bus, to sign the Lahore declaration with PM Sharif. However, ties were derailed after that because of the Kargil war a few months later, which was seen as a betrayal by Pakistan’s then Army chief Pervez Musharraf. When he returned to power in 2013, PM Nawaz Sharif said he wished to pick up ties with India from the Lahore meeting. Years earlier, PM Manmohan Singh had said in a speech in 2007 that he “dreamed” of a day he could have breakfast in Amritsar, Lunch in Lahore and Dinner in Kabul. While he never fulfilled that dream, Mr. Modi seems to have taken a leaf from both his predecessors books on striving for better ties with Pakistan, by effecting that dream in reverse, slightly modified.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2017 11:36:23 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/modi-stuns-all-with-surprise-stopover-in-lahore-following-unannounced-stop-in-kabul/article8029007.ece