NEW DELHI: In wake of backdoor diplomacy, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is likely to visit India next month, Indian media reported today.
“Both sides are in touch to facilitate meetings for him with Indian leaders, including Indian PM Narendra Modi, in the last week of January,” the ‘Times of India’ reported.
Further, the report added that after approval from the Indian government, the Punjab chief minister has been invited by the management committee of the Nizamuddin Auliya shrine to take part in the death anniversary of the 13th century Sufi saint. Confirming the invite, Nizamuddin chief khadim Tahir Nizami told the Times of India that Shahbaz had visited the shrine several decades ago as well.
“While Shahbaz is said to have accepted the invite, both countries are looking to use the opportunity to further the purple patch they seem to have hit in bilateral ties,” the report added.
“The visit could be used by both countries to expand the ambit of the composite dialogue process which was resumed recently under the new name of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue,” it added.
Shahbaz’s visit will come after Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan. During her visit, Swaraj after a meeting with the premier’s senior aide Sartaj Aziz announced that the fresh dialogue process will likely have additional components apart from those mentioned in the composite dialogue. One important addition, according to both sides, is going to be religious tourism.
Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan marked the first significant engagement between the two nuclear-armed nations since the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia in July this year.
Facilitation of religious tourism between the two countries has been discussed more than once as it was not only mentioned in a statement issued after Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad but was also mentioned in the Ufa statement in July, issued after a meeting between the premiers of the two countries in the Russian city.