Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan in more than 11 years when he announced a surprise visit to the neighboring country earlier today.
Modi, who announced his visit tp Pakistan via Twitter, surprised everyone with the spontaneity of the visit.
The Indian Prime Minister was on his way back to India after his visit to Afghanistan when he announced the unscheduled visit. The visit coincides with the birthdays of his Pakistani compatriot Nawaz Sharif and the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Tensions between the countries, both of which now bear nuclear fire arms, have been high over the years but now seem to be settling down despite both nations accusing each other on occasion for violating the ceasefire agreed in 2003.
Earlier this month, the national security advisers of both countries held meeting in Bangkok. Bangkokpost reported that they discussed “peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquility along the LoC (line of control),” the de facto border in Kashmir.
The previous bilateral engagement between the two countries occurred when Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad for the heart of Asia Conference on December 9. It was regarded as a huge step forward from previously sour relations.
Prior to his tweet, while unveiling the Parliament building in Kabul, Modi promised Indian Support to the Afghan Government and urged Pakistan to focus on promptness in working together to eradicate terrorism.
“We know that Afghanistan’s success will require the cooperation and support of each of its neighbors,” he said. “And all of us in the region – India, Pakistan, Iran and others – must unite in trust and cooperation behind the common purpose and in recognition of our common destiny.”
The two nation heads are expected to engage in high level talks in subjects ranging from terrorism to border issues and security.
The visit has baffled many, because despite urging Pakistan for help, Modi still went on to indirectly criticize Pakistan when he said Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border and when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut. Though Pakistan was not specifically mentioned, Modi’s intent was clear: there is a bleak belief across India that Islamabad is funding terrorism across the borders in Afghanistan.
The last Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan was Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who shares the same political party with Modi. The visit occurred when he attended a South Asian summit in 2004. Vajpayee is greatly credited for thawing the ice cold relationship between the previously British-colonized neighbors to a certain degree.
The chief opposition party Congress, who were unable to hold high level talks with Pakistan during their back-to-back reigns with previous P.M Manmohan Singh, were quick to criticize the decision and also questioned the manner the visit was announced.
“The move, if not preposterous, is utterly ridiculous. You can’t do such things in such a cavalier manner,” said the Congress’ Manish Tiwari. He also warned, “PM Modi’s adventures will have serious implications.”
The Senior Leader of Peoples Party United said he was “shocked” by the decision. He added, “I am stunned and shocked. At this moment, I can think of beheaded Naik Hemraj.” The comment refers to the Lance, who was reportedly beheaded by Pakistani soldiers last January.
The hugely popular Aam Aadmy Party also did not seem to like the visit with their influential leader tweeting the following message.
The ruling party BJP defended the decision of their talisman with their official spokesman, Nalin Kohli saying, “Better ties with Pakistan are in the interest of the region. If two nations are trying to work out ties, we must welcome it.”
The visit is being discussed all over world, as the hashtag “#miraclevisit” is trending on Twitter. The meeting is believed to hold the power to change the dynamics of South Asian Politics.