India's PM Modi makes first visit to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD -- India's Narendra Modi arrived in Pakistan on Friday, his first visit as prime minister to this Islamic nation that has been India's long-standing archrival in the region.

See Full Article

The previously unannounced visit is a potential sign of thawing relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. The two heads of government also had an unscheduled meeting at the Paris climate change talks earlier this month.

Since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, the Himalayan region that both countries claim.

Modi landed on Friday afternoon in the eastern city of Lahore and met with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, state-run media reported. The visit coincides with Sharif's birthday and the wedding of his granddaughter.

Security was beefed up at the Lahore International Airport shortly before Modi's arrival. Earlier in the day, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said India had informed Pakistan about the visit on Friday. He refused to share any further details.

One of the first public signs of the visit came Friday morning when Modi, during a stop in the Afghan capital of Kabul, tweeted that he is "looking forward to meeting" Sharif in Lahore, "where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi." He said he also called Sharif and wished him happy birthday.

Sharif's sprawling residence had been colorfully decorated for his granddaughter's wedding reception when Modi arrived along with the Pakistani prime minister. The two leaders were later shown sitting together in a room looking happy and relaxed.

Analysts viewed the visit as a potential turning point in Pakistani-Indian relations.

"I think it is going to play a significant role in improving ties between the two South Asian archrivals," said Amanullah Memon, a professor of international relations at Preston University in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Amitabh Matto, an Indian foreign policy expert, described Modi's birthday diplomacy visit as a "very positive step."

"Any step toward trying to stabilize and provide a new beginning to India-Pakistan ties is welcome and needs to be supported by all those who believe that India and Pakistan have a common destiny and it is in their interest to fight together their common problems, including terrorism and economic under-development," he said.

Tarun Vijay, a spokesman for Modi's Bharatiya Janata party, praised Modi's visit as a sign of statesmanship. "This is the best Christmas gift to the mankind which believes in peace and amity. He has risen to the commanding heights of being a statesman who can take a bold step surprising his friends and foes but melting ice in the relations," Vijay said

After a year of rising tensions, top security officials from India and Pakistan held talks in Thailand's capital earlier in December, discussing a range of issues, including Kashmir and ways to maintain peace along the countries' shared border. Also, two weeks ago, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan to attend a meeting on Afghanistan.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. More than 68,000 people have been killed in ongoing Kashmir violence, which began in 1989.

A cease-fire along the so-called "line of control" that serves as the border between Indian and Pakistani-held Kashmir has largely held since 2003, but cross-border firing and minor skirmishes are fairly common, with each side routinely blaming the other.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a key separatist leader in the Indian portion of Kashmir, said: "It's a welcome step. We hope that it is followed by a consistent policy of engagement to resolve the Kashmir dispute. India and Pakistan have to evolve a mechanism to involve the core party to the issue -- that is the Kashmiri people."

India also wants Pakistan to bring to justice Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 168 people. Saeed lives openly in Pakistan and often appears on TV interviews; the government claims it lacks the evidence to charge him.

Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Four tornadoes touch down in Saskatchewan, another two reported

    Canada News CTV News
    Environment Canada has confirmed that four tornadoes touched down in Saskatchewan on Friday. The tornadoes did not cause any damage, according to Environment Canada, but warnings were issued due to the surrounding storms. Another two tornadoes were reported, photographed and posted on social media. Source
  • Liberals punted on 1st down with $10.5M Omar Khadr settlement

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    When Peter Kent wrote the opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal that tipped off sleeping Americans to the Omar Khadr payoff, he wrote not as a Conservative MP but as the journalist he once was. This is why it resonated so strongly, and suddenly became the top news item on many U.S. Source
  • U.S. kills 12 Afghan police in airstrike amid violent clashes with Taliban

    World News CBC News
    An errant U.S. airstrike confirmed by the Pentagon killed 12 Afghan National Police officers and wounded two others, as another 11 police were killed and six wounded in clashes with the Taliban, Afghan officials said Saturday. Source
  • U.S. airstrike kills 12 Afghan police officers

    World News Toronto Sun
    KABUL — An errant U.S. airstrike confirmed by the Pentagon killed 12 Afghan National Police officers and wounded two others, as another 11 police were killed and six wounded in clashes with the Taliban, Afghan officials said Saturday. Source
  • Sean Spicer thought 'SNL' skits were 'funny'

    World News Toronto Sun
    Soon to be ex-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer admits he likes a good joke. In his first interview since he resigned from his post on Friday, Spicer told Fox News' Sean Hannity that Saturday Night Live's parody of him was humourous at times. Source
  • Venezuelans march in opposition to constitution rewrite

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Protesters marched through the Venezuelan capital toward the embattled nation's Supreme Court on Saturday, chanting and waving flags in an escalating push to stop President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution. Source
  • Lech Walesa urges Poles to defend democracy as Hungary's Orban blasts EU

    World News CTV News
    WARSAW, Poland -- Polish democracy icon and former president Lech Walesa on Saturday joined the protests that have broken out across Poland over plans by the populist ruling party to put the Supreme Court and the rest of the judicial system under the party's political control. Source
  • Some residents free to go home as B.C. evacuations orders are downgraded

    Canada News CBC News
    Many wildfire evacuees from Princeton, B.C., are being allowed back into town after an evacuation order was downgraded to an alert on Saturday morning. For some, it's been more than two weeks since they left home. Source
  • German girl who converted to Islam found working for ISIS in Iraq

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN -- A German girl who ran away from home shortly after converting to Islam has been found as Iraqi forces liberated the northern city of Mosul from Islamic States forces, German and Iraqi officials said Saturday as authorities tried to figure out what to do with her. Source
  • Errant U.S. bombing kills 12 Afghan security forces: police

    World News CTV News
    KABUL -- An errant U.S. airstrike confirmed by the Pentagon killed 12 Afghan National Police officers and wounded two others, as another 11 police were killed and six wounded in clashes with the Taliban, Afghan officials said Saturday. Source