Print Edition - 2014-11-28 | News
PM breaks Indo-Pak stalemate
Nov 27, 2014-
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala played a crucial role to break the stalemate between two South Asian giants—India and Pakistan—on Thursday during a retreat at Dhulikhel on the sidelines of the 18th Saarc Summit, possibly paving way for bilateral talks that was last called off on August 18.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif were seemingly reluctant to acknowledge each other’s presence during the inaugural session of the summit on Wednesday. The two leaders did not even look at one another, let alone shake hands during the inauguration.
Diplomatic sources, however, confirmed that Modi and Sharif eventually shook hands after the inaugural session inside the City Hall, the summit venue.
At a time when all eyes focused on the duo, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala suggested his Indian counterpart to reach out to Sharif, given the southern neighbour’s size, population, economy and its regional and global strategic clout. PM Koirala took the chance as an opportunity to facilitate the stalled bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.
“We provided an excellent environment for the heads of state and government to mingle,” said prime minister’s foreign relations adviser Dinesh Bhattarai, who was present during the retreat in Dhulikhel.
The heads of state and government were taken for a stroll around Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel while PM Koirala talked about the geographical importance of the area and gradually developed a conducive environment for bilateral discussions.
It was then that Modi and Sharif shook hands and began informal talks, said an official present at the retreat programme. The duo had also agreed on formally shaking hands during the closing ceremony in Kathmandu later in the day.
“Today’s retreat is another milestone where important issues were discussed upon. Deliberations were held in a very friendly and cordial atmosphere,” said PM Koirala in a press conference on Thursday.
When asked about his role in breaking the ice between India and Pakistan, Koirala said, “Saarc means a family. It is natural that hands and souls keep on match here.”
Once Modi and Sharif shook hands, the summit hall erupted in applause. PM Koirala stood behind Modi and Sharif when the duo exchanged words following the handshake. As Modi initiated talks by whispering in Sharif’s ear, the gesture was followed by a visibly seen jubilant duo sharing views.
The positive gesture between Modi and Sharif was reflected in the proposed agreements. The heads agreed to sign a Saarc Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation and decided to sign two other pacts—Motor Vehicle and Railway Agreements—within three months, a noted positive development in the region.
Published: 28-11-2014 09:11