Pakistani, Indian MPs admit internal factors affect relations

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif walks past Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 18th Saarc summit.—Reuters/File


NEW DELHI: Parliamen­tarians from India and Pakistan ended two days of talks here on Friday with not much to report though they honestly, perhaps helplessly, acknowledged that domestic politics can and does impact the course of their relations.

Mr Awais Khan Leghari, chairman of Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and former cabinet minister and Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar, led the talks.

“Internal conditions within both countries deserve primary but not necessarily exclusive considerations,” a joint statement said. “Internal factors can compromise party politics, electoral pressures, partisan conflicts and public opinion. At the same time the vital interests of both states have an inescapable external dimension,” the statement said.

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Mr Leghari said at a separate meeting with reporters that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image in Pakistan had taken a knocking after initial optimism.

“It’s not positive. It can’t be positive when you are looking at a brochure when the prime minister of the neighbouring country walks by you,” he said referring to an incident when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was studiously ignored by the Indian leader though they shared a platform at the Saarc summit in Kathmandu.

“It can’t leave a positive image after the prime minister of a country comes to your oath taking ceremony and then you suspend the talks.” Mr Legahri played down reports of an incident when the Pakistani delegation visited the Indian parliament on Friday but could not meet Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

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Mr Aiyar said there was a mix-up in the communication about the exact time of the meeting for which he took the blame.

Mr Leghari said he would ensure that no mix-up interrupted any schedule if the Indian delegation were to visit Pakistan’s National Assembly. This was the sixth meeting of the India-Pakistan Parliamentary Dialogue and several members noted there had been virtually no progress since its inception.

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