As Modi, Sharif meet, Delhi Police link spy ring to Pakistan High Commission

While neither side issued any statement on what prompted the meeting between the Prime Ministers, it was not by chance.

Updated - November 17, 2021 02:22 am IST

Published - December 01, 2015 03:31 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets hisPakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Paris on Monday on thesidelines of the 21st session of the Conference of Parties.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets hisPakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Paris on Monday on thesidelines of the 21st session of the Conference of Parties.

In a dramatic turn, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Minister Nawaz Sharif met and spoke on the sidelines of the UNFCCC main event in Paris on Monday, shaking hands and sharing a sofa set as they chatted easily for a few minutes in private. While neither side issued any statement on what prompted the meeting, it was not by chance. Sources confirmed to The Hindu that NSA Ajit Doval had met with Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit two weeks ago, to discuss the possibility of the Prime Ministers meeting in Paris. “If we really keep positive sentiments for one another, we must take practical steps towards their fulfillment,” Mr. Sharif was quoted by Pakistani media as saying on Monday after his meeting with Mr. Modi. “We want to make progress and improve both internal and external matters,” he said, adding that all states should adopt the path of dialogue for resolution of issues.

The meeting came on the same day Delhi police claimed a spy ring busted by them in Jammu had possible links to the Pakistan High Commission. Referring to the two men arrested including a BSF head constable and his alleged ISI recruiter, Joint Commissioner of Police Ravindra Yadav told the media that they had been " invited to Pakistan by their handler and told that their people at the Pakistan high commission will help him.” Mr. Yadav added that no investigation had been undertaken against the Pakistan High Commission as the men were “not aware of the contact of the concerned person at the high commission.” However, the government ally Shiv Sena demanded that the High Commission be shut down in view of the alleged spy racket. “The Pakistan High Commission in Delhi should be locked and the key should be thrown away. It should be closed," Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told a news agency.The developments in Delhi didn’t seem to affect the bonhomie between the two prime ministers in Paris, however, who officials said exchanged pleasantries during the conversation. While officials wouldn’t confirm if any substantive issues were also discussed, it is possible they discussed India and Pakistan’s similar positions on the need for ‘climate justice’ during the COP21 event. Shortly before leaving for Paris, Mr. Modi had spoken on his monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio address  of his desire for a joint SAARC forum to fight climate change.

PM Modi’s meeting with Mr. Sharif marked the first between the two leaders since the summit in Ufa this July, which was followed by the cancellation of NSA talks they had agreed upon. In September, the two leaders had also shared a common stage at a UN peacekeeping conference, but had failed to meet, or to exchange more than a wave while in New York together. It remains to be seen whether the conversation between the two leaders could kickstart any further engagement between India and Pakistan that has been hanging fire for months. In particular, Pakistan has invited EAM Sushma Swaraj to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ donor conference on Afghanistan to be held in Islamabad on December 7th, and that apart, the BCCI has submitted a proposal for permission for Team India to play a series of cricket matches with Pakistan in Sri Lanka later this month. Any forward movement on either proposal could mark a thaw in ties between the two countries.

“It is too early to say what will be the formal outcome of the meeting in Paris. But both the leaders should get sufficient space to decide the future course of action,” advised  Jayant Prasad, Director General, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). However ,any plans for an India-Pakistan thaw could be dealt a blow with any possible further revelations from the ISI spy ring bust. Police wouldn’t comment on whether the spy chain busted in Jammu had any links to the other alleged ISI modules busted in Kolkata and other parts of the country, but wouldn’t rule it.

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