Pakistan's Foreign Office keeps mum on motive of Sajjan Jindal's visit

Islamabad: Pakistan's Foreign Office has kept mum on the timing and the motive behind the visit of Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal to the country to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif this week, even as his "secret" visit echoed at the National Assembly.

Jindal, who is said to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's and Sharif's mutual friend and considered a sort of back-channel contact, briefly visited Pakistan on Wednesday, the day when High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale filed an appeal with the Foreign Office against Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence.

The appeal was submitted on behalf of Jadhav's mother in which she had sought the federal government’s intervention for the release of her son.

Jindal was taken by helicopter to Murree, where he met Prime Minister Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz. His trip led to speculation that a move for revival of bilateral dialogue could be afoot, the Dawn reported.

Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, who was leading the FO team at the the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee meeting yesterday, was asked about the Jindal's visit and when she could not respond to queries, committee chairman Awais Leghari brought the discussion to an end, the paper said.

Jindal's trip is also being linked to the fast deteriorating situation in Kashmir, which some think has pushed Modi's government to consider talking to Pakistan.

Jindal in the past facilitated a secret meeting between Sharif and Modi in Kathmandu on the sidelines of a SAARC summit in 2014. The meeting had then helped save the summit that seemed to be headed for failure and a last-minute deal to create a regional electricity grid was clinched.

In 2015, Jindal was in Lahore on the occasion of Modi’s surprise visit to greet Sharif on his birthday and attend his granddaughter’s wedding.

"Why is the government quiet over Jindal's visit?" asked PPP’s Nafeesa Shah during the committee’s meeting.

There was no formal press statement by the PM Office on Jindal's meeting with Sharif even though it regularly issues press releases on the prime minister’s engagements with business delegations.

Maryam, however, confirmed the trip in a tweet as she rejected its description as "secret" by some of the media outlets.

"Jindal is an old friend of the Prime Minister. Nothing 'secret' about the meeting & should not be blown out of proportion," she had tweeted after the issue hit headlines a day after the Indian businessman toured Pakistan.

Pakistan Tehreek Insaf’s Shireen Mazari questioned as to how Jindal visited Murree, when his visa was restricted for Islamabad and Lahore only.

"If Jindal had come on a private visit, why did FO officials receive him?” Ms Mazari further asked.

Updated Date: Apr 29, 2017 18:33 PM

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