Reports said a three-member Indian delegation had a lunch with Nawaz Sharif in Murree. Reportedly, a message of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conveyed to him.
Opposition parties, including Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, attacked the PM over the ‘secret’ meeting which comes as efforts are being made to ensure a meeting between the two premiers on the sidelines of the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Kazakhstan.
The PPP submitted an adjournment motion in the Senate on Jindal’s private meeting. In her motion, PPP leader Sherry Rehman said: “It is widely reported that the prime minister of Pakistan has had an unofficial meeting with Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal who is on some diplomatic mission for Narendra Modi. Given that this is yet another meeting held at a high level without the Foreign Office after Modi’s private visit, it is high time the people of Pakistan are taken into confidence about what transpires in such meetings. The matter is of urgent public importance and the house may adjourn other business to discuss this vital issue.”
The PTI too submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly and also vowed to raise voice over the issue in the parliament.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said: “Our party is concerned over the visit of the Indian delegation. PM Sharif has business relations with Indians. We believe it is not a mere coincidence that Jindal arrived when the government is about to make the Dawn leaks scandal report public,” he added.
The PM’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, had to intervene to counter the opposition’s onslaught, saying Sharif-Jindal meeting was being blown out of proportion.
In a message on twitter, she said there was nothing secret about the meeting. “Jindal is an old friend of the prime minister. Nothing ‘secret’ about the meeting and should not be blown out of proportion. Thank you,” she said.
According to a private TV channel, the Indian delegation flew from Kabul to Islamabad on Wednesday and then drove to Murree to meet the prime minister.
However, other reports in the media suggest that the Foreign Office of the country had denied having any knowledge about this meeting.
Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said he had “no information” on the meeting.
Jindal was in Lahore in December 2015 when Modi made a surprise trip to the eastern Pakistani city while returning from an official visit to Afghanistan to wish Sharif on his birthday and to participate in events before the marriage of Mehr-un-Nisa, the daughter of Maryam Nawaz.
Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb categorically stated that the Indian businessman`s meeting with the prime minister was in ‘personal capacity’ and has nothing to do with any backchannel diplomacy with India.
Talking to a TV channel, the minister reiterated that PM Nawaz and Jindal`s meeting was a meetup between two old friends. “It is wrong to give it a colour of backchannel diplomacy,” she said.