NEW DELHI - India on Friday was quick to deny suggestions that PM Narendra Modi’s meeting with his counterpart Nawaz Sharif was anything but an “impromptu’’ courtesy meeting on Sharif ‘s birthday. It was also the wedding day of his granddaughter.

However, it was the presence of steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal in Lahore which set tongues wagging about a possible back channel which may have been activated to make the meeting possible. Jindal shot into the limelight after a TV journalist mentioned in her book his role as a conduit in facilitating a meeting between Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the Saarc summit last year in Kathmandu, reported Times of India.

Soon after Modi tweeted his decision to travel to Lahore, Jindal tweeted about his presence in the city for the wedding. Indian Ministry of External Affairs had officially denied any meeting between Sharif and Modi in Kathmandu.

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s decision to travel to Pakistan a few days ago is also being seen as an indicator that the Pakistan authorities had some inkling of an impending high-level engagement between the two countries. Basit is still on leave in Pakistan. It is no secret that he has played an increasingly positive role in turning the tide in relations.

Even before the two PMs met in Paris, it was Basit’s meeting with Doval which convinced India that Islamabad was looking for a serious engagement with India. Jindal arrived in Lahore in a chartered aircraft with his wife Friday. He is said to have tremendous influence over Sharif, as evident from the latter’s decision to attend a tea party at Jindal’s home when he came to India in May last year.