Lahore: “Ab yahan ana jana laga rahey ga (Now such meetings will continue to take place),” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during a surprise visit on his way back home from Kabul.
Modi, who stayed for over two hours in Lahore yesterday, queried Sharif when the Pakistani prime minister introduced him to his family members, “Aap ka sara pariwar yahan rahta hai (all members of your family stay here?)”.
To which, Sharif replied, “yes, some 70 to 80 family members stay here,” a source privy to the chat said. Injecting an element of drama into the see-saw Indo-Pak ties, Modi took the world by surprise by announcing in a tweet from Kabul that he will “drop by” in Lahore to greet Sharif on his 66th birthday on Friday.
After Modi landed in Lahore, the two leaders flew to Sharif’s palatial residence Jati Umra Raiwind on the outskirts of the city in a chopper, making it the first time that any two leaders of the two countries were travelling together. “Modi said ab to yahan ana jana laga rahey ga (Now such meetings will continue to take place),” the source said. On this, Sharif said, “why not this is your house.” Sharif also introduced his mother to Modi, who touched her feet.
Modi presented ‘sarees’ and other gifts to Sharif on the occasion of the weeding of his granddaughter Mehrun Nisa (daughter of Mariam Nawaz Sharif), the source added.
The two leaders spent about 80 minutes together during which Modi greeted Sharif’s family members.
According to India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman, the visit and the talks were aimed at infusing a “positive spirit” in the neighbourhood.
The first visit by an Indian premier in 11 years marked another step forward by the two countries in their efforts to put on an even keel in their ties which was going through a chill until recently.