Doubts have arisen over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Pakistan in November to attend the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. According to reports, High Commissioner of India to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale on Tuesday said in Karachi that the Prime Minister was “looking forward to visiting Islamabad” for the SAARC Summit in November.
However, Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted: “Decisions and announcements of such nature are not made so far in advance.”
On Monday at G-20 Summit, the PM had stated that a “single nation” is promoting and spreading terror in the South Asian region. This followed in less than a month after Modi spoke about alleged human rights violations in Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in his Independence Day address.
“India cannot afford to boycott the SAARC Summit. Whether the Prime Minister goes or someone else represents him, is a different matter. Modi, if he decides to go, must ensure beforehand that Pakistan makes the environment conducive enough. Sharif has to reverse all that is happening now as anti-India diplomacy,” said former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal.
Following a decision to resume the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue between the two countries last year, India-Pakistan ties reached a low point of trust as Pak terrorists attacked the Pathankot Air Force base on January 2. India believed it was masterminded by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terrorist outfit based in Pakistan. Nevertheless, New Delhi permitted investigators from Pakistan and a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) visited the air base in March. This was to be followed up by a similar visit by Indian investigators there, which never happened. This was another instance of breach of understanding, aggravating the trust deficit between the two countries.
Clearly, NaMo’s ‘neighborhood first’ policy has suffered insofar as Pakistan is concerned, even as it pays dividends in respect of other neighboring countries. Because of this, even if Prime Minister goes to Pakistan in November, it will be difficult for him to convince the country about the visit. Already the Congress Party has questioned the rationale of visiting Pakistan.