New Delhi- The mango season may be on its last leg in India but in Pakistan the fruit is still sweet enough to temper the bitterness in ties between India and Pakistan.
After the recent acrimony over Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit's meeting with separatists, which forced India to cancel the foreign secretary-level dialogue, PM Nawaz Sharif has made an attempt to reach out to his counterpart Narendra Modi. Sharif, according to top sources, sent a box of choicest Pakistani mangoes, mostly Sindhri and Chaunsa, to Modi, reported Indian media today.
The mangoes, all personal favourites of Sharif, were delivered to Modi through "official channels" on Wednesday evening. Sharif's mango diplomacy, according to diplomatic sources, not just seeks to undo the damage to ties caused by the cancellation of talks but is also meant to act as a feeler from Islamabad that Pakistan is looking forward to a Sharif-Modi meet later this month in New York on the sidelines of UNGA.
Pakistan has so far not made a formal proposal for New York and is likely to wait for a response from the government to Sharif's mango outreach. Despite Modi's "proxy war" remarks against Pakistan, Sharif has avoided any confrontational exchange with India with his foreign office reiterating that Pakistan wants an improvement in relations with India. Sharif himself has been besieged for the past several weeks by thousands of anti-government protesters seeking his ouster under the leadership of Canada based cleric Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan.
Apart from Modi, Sharif sent mangoes also to President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. "The message seems to be one of sweetness as symbolized by the mangoes but we'll have to wait a little longer to see what lies on the road ahead," said a source aware of the development.
Sharif's gesture is significant also because it suggests that the Pakistan PM is confident the storm in Islamabad will blow over without any serious consequence for him. With the Pakistan army refraining from moving in, Sharif has managed to dig in his heels despite demands by Qadri and Khan for his exit. He has also been helped by several other political parties who have rallied behind him saying the protesters are targeting not just the government but all democratic forces in the country.