ISLAMABAD - Only a day after welcoming the meeting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Lahore, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) yesterday termed the meeting a 'conflict of interest' on the suspicions that perhaps an Indian business tycoon arranged it.
The remarks of Chairman PTI Imran Khan about Nawaz-Modi meeting came through his tweets following some unconfirmed reports on media that Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal was the key factor in arranging this meeting.
Times of India in its Saturday's report said: "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. Soon after Modi tweeted his decision to travel to Lahore, Jindal tweeted about his presence in the city for the wedding."
Indian PM Modi, on his way from Kabul to New Delhi, made a brief surprise visit to Lahore on last Friday to meet with PM Nawaz at his residence in Raiwind. It was the arrival of an Indian Prime Minister on Pakistani soil after around a decade.
PTI, the other day, in a statement had welcomed PM Modi's visit to Pakistan and said that the meeting of the prime ministers of the two countries would have a positive impact on bilateral relations. It said the good relations would be instrumental for the durable peace of the region.
However, a day after the statement, the chairman PTI in a series of three tweets condemned the meeting saying it was a conflict of interest. In his first tweet, he said: "We welcome the thaw in Pak-India relations, but to have a business associate arrange the two prime ministers' meeting has an underlying conflict of interest," he tweeted.
In his next tweet, he said that this meeting should have been arranged through proper channel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also mentions the two PMs meeting held in Khatmundo on the sidelines of SAARC conference held last year. He tweeted: "2. Mtgs of the 2 PMs, from secret Kathmandu one to Lhr one, must be through institutional frameworks with MFA in the loop for sustainability."
Further, Imran Khan said, such meetings through business associates undermine the process and raise questions of conflict of interest. "3. Mtgs of PMs through business associates undermine the detente process & raise questions of conflict of interest," he tweeted.
A senior office-bearer of PTI's Media Wing dispelled the impression that PTI changed its stance on the meeting of two premiers. "Our stance has not changed but we verified the process that things should be institutionalised and this meeting should be within the governmental framework," he said. He said that Foreign Secretary was in Lahore by chance, otherwise MoFA was not aware of the meeting and the official protocols were violated in this regard. We have only asserted diplomatic norms, he said, adding the meeting looked more a family affair than of two premiers as the family members of Nawaz Sharif welcomed Modi.