PAKISTAN SAYS SHARIF-JINDAL MEETING LAST MONTH WAS PART OF BACK-CHANNEL DIPLOMACY

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

According to media reports in Pakistan quoting a BBC Urdu report, its civilian government has briefed the Pak army about recent meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal terming it a part of ‘back channel diplomacy’.

According to a Geo News report quoting the BBC Urdu report, Nawaz Sharif had recently met Pak army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa to take him into confidence over the meet. The report also claims that Jindal’s visit and his meeting with Nawaz Sharif was initiated by India to reduced tension between two countries. After Sharif met Bajwa with his explanation, the Pak army chief took other Pak army commanders into confidence over the high profile visit.

On April 27, Sajjan Jindal, who is brother of steel tycoon Naveen Jindal and managing director of the JSW Steel, had met with Nawaz Sharif at his Murree’s residence in what was then described as a secret meeting. The meeting had created a ripple in Pakistan’s politics with Nawaz Sharif’s political opposition raising fingers over the visit at a time when relations between two nations were low historically. The meeting was also widely reported in India, as it came in the aftermath of Pakistan’s sham trial giving death sentence to an innocent Indian Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The Pakistan foreign office had then adopted silence over it while Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif had tweeted to say that his father and Mr. Jindal were old friends and the meeting should not be blown out of proportion.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif‏Verified account
@MaryamNSharif
Mr. Jindal is an old friend of the Prime Minister. Nothing ‘secret’ about the meeting & should not be blown out of proportion. Thank you.
7:38 PM – 27 Apr 2017

According to The News International, “Nawaz Sharif was tight-lipped on the meeting. However, the only detail of the meeting he shared with his aides was that Jindal was making efforts to defuse tension between India and Pakistan.”

Sajjan Jindal is a common friend of Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif and is thought to act as an interlocutor between the two.

And if we talk of back-channel diplomacy between India and Pakistan, as recently as yesterday, Nawaz Sharif’s advisor Sartaj Aziz said a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi was possible when they would be in Kazakhstan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit on June 23-14, even if he added that “Pakistan could consider the meeting, if interest was shown from the other side (India)”, as a report in The Nation said.

©SantoshChaubey

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