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Expectations high as Nawaz lands in New Delhi today

26 May, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: The visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi for inauguration of India's new prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday (today) has offered a fresh opportunity for the revival of chilled relations between the two countries.

The next day's bilateral meeting between leaders of the two countries would add further attraction to the event, making it a big international show with incredible media focus.

During his visit, Sharif will also be accompanied by his adviser on national security and foreign affairs Sartaz Aziz, special assistant Tariq Fatemi, foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and secretary to PM Javaid Aslam.

According to the schedule, Sharif will leave for New Delhi at 10 am. As he lands there, he would be driven straight to his hotel in central Delhi where he will have his lunch and meeting with officials from the Pakistan High Commission ahead of the oath-taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Right from the beginning, it was understood that Sharif wanted to make the trip to India but the delay in the announcement was caused due to prevailing uncertainty in the country, mainly due to civil-military friction over government's stance on the issue of prosecution of ex-president General (r) Pervez Musharraf in a treason case and a private media group's tussle with the country's premier intelligence agency.

The recent meeting between Shahbaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Shareef at an army guest house in Lahore, according to PML-N insiders, paved the way for elder Sharif to fulfil his wish to be among the leaders of SAARC countries at the Modi's swearing-in ceremony. The support from political leaders at home provided further impetus to Sharif's unprecedented visit.

The Tuesday's meeting between two South Asian leaders, scheduled for a brief 30 minutes, can hardly be expected to cover a long range of issues. However, Pakistan's side, which will include Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi, may be expecting to raise the most intricate issues, like Kashmir and the water dispute. Sharif's team is also likely to ask for resumption of composite dialogue which was halted after the 26/11 attacks in India's most populous city of Mumbai. The restoration of Pak-India cricketing ties may also be taken up for discussion.

The Indian PM, according to observers, would be trying to keep it a familiarisation sort of a venture.

Observers, though, expect the possibility of resumption of diplomatic and economic relations right from the upcoming meeting. The Times of India reported on Sunday that Modi may play the 'fight against poverty' card with Sharif to coax him to open up trading relations with India. "By all accounts, the NDMA (non-discriminatory market access) deal is waiting to be signed.

Pakistan was reluctant to do it with Manmohan Singh government that it (rightly) thought was in decline. There's speculation that Islamabad might dangle it as a carrot in return for New Delhi's engagement on outstanding issues like Kashmir," the report said.


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