Responses to Modi’s Visit

PM Nawaz and PM Modi in LahoreIndian Prim Minister Narenda Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore added to the celebrations of the week. Nawaz did not greet his Indian counterpart as part of a high level diplomatic mission, and yet it was exactly the type of diplomatic ice breaker that has been so desperately needed. Even Imran Khan was found appreciating the event, terming it ‘a positive step’.

Not everyone was pleased, though, as certain media personalities took to social media to make their own opinions known.


For the common man, improved relations between the two nuclear powers is an obvious benefit. Besides reducing the obvious chances of violence, improved relations also promises to improve economic opportunities and tourism. For certain media talking heads, though, improved relations are obviously very threatening. Perhaps this is because their own economic success depends largely on continued tensions and an easy enemy to demonise. Is it possible that certain individuals are willing to put their own wealth and fame above the good of their own country? Would someone who puts their own greed before their country be correctly called a ‘patriot’?

Obviously this may be taking things a bit too far. However if these individuals are not acting for their own self interest, whose interests are they so desperate to protect? Perhaps the better question is who is it that gains the most money and power from having poor relations between our two nations? Some will point to religious groups and their private funders who find themselves with more power when they can convince the people that Islam is under threat. There are others who will note that it is not only religious groups that play the ‘fortress of Islam’ card to continually increase their funding and authority.

Probably we will never know what causes some to feel so threatened and scared of peace between Pakistan and India. Never mind them, though. There have always been those who have tried to sabotage Pakistan’s relations to their own benefit. Some will dismiss the visit between the two Prime Ministers by saying that it didn’t accomplish anything. This is not entire accurate, however. It did accomplish one thing which was flushing out certain individuals and making them show their true face.

What Isn’t Being Said About Nawaz’s India Trip

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Government media men tried to make a success out of Nawaz Sharif’s trip to Washington last year, but it didn’t take long for everyone to realise it was a failure. Similarly, the Prime Minister’s recent trip to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his new Indian counterpart Narendra Modi was quickly greeted with warm felicitations from corners of the media, but even these lacked enthusiasm almost as much as the Prime Minister’s delivery of his prepared remarks.

Once again, the PM was reduced to reading from an old script, giving pleasant sounding words about mutual interest and economic development. But as with his scripted remarks in Washington, the remarks fell flat as even the orator himself seemed hard pressed to believe they were anything but ceremonial.

The scripted remarks weren’t the only familiar feature in this drama, though. Just as the American President responded to the PM with uncomfortable questions about Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and cross-border militant activity, the international media reported that Modi also ‘conveyed that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory and territory under its control from being used for terrorism’ – a demand that the Prime Minister has been hearing not only from America and India, but our ‘all-weather friend’ China as well.

It is worthwhile to remain optimistic that Nawaz can manage to improve relations with his new Indian counterpart and to begin to heal the decades-old bitterness that is so costly to both our countries. However, we should keep our feet firmly planted on the ground so that our heads are not lost in the clouds. Prepared statements given at high level meetings are like sweetmeats that are pleasurable but also fleeting. To build healthy relations, we must be willing to get to the meat of the matters.