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

  • Singer k.d. lang invites Jason Kenney to Calgary Pride after UCP rejection but says he's busy

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    CALGARY — Alberta crooner k.d. lang has invited Jason Kenney to Calgary’s Pride festivities — but it appears he won’t be attending. The country singer took to Twitter on Tuesday to offer Kenney — a leadership candidate for the province’s new United Conservative Party — free tickets to a concert if he’d sit down and discuss LGBTQ rights with her. Source
  • Cross-burning victims to priest: Apology is not enough

    World News CTV News
    In this May 3, 1982 file photo, President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan walk with Barbara and Phillip Butler and their daughter Natasha, outside the family's home in College Park, Md., May 3, 1982. (AP Photo / Barry Thumma, File) Source
  • 'Pride of Russia:' Russian art community turns out to support detained director

    World News CBC News
    To a full house and rapturous applause more suited to one of his sold-out productions, Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov appeared in court Wednesday and was placed under house arrest pending an investigation into charges that he embezzled government funds allocated for one of his projects. Source
  • Windsor hospital increases security after stabbing in hospital by a patient

    Canada News CTV News
    WINDSOR, Ont. -- A Windsor, Ont., hospital is increasing security after one mental health patient stabbed another, but the facility says it is trying to strike a balance between safety and patients' rehabilitation needs. David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, said a 17-year-old male patient stabbed a 26-year-old female patient as he returned from a day-pass visit with his family over the weekend. Source
  • Appeal Court finds prison lockdowns not 'cruel and unusual' punishment

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A judge's finding that numerous prison lockdowns amounted to cruel and unusual treatment for two detainees was overturned Wednesday along with the $85,000 in damages he had awarded them. In its ruling, Ontario's top court found the lower court judge had overstated the frequency, duration and impact of the lockdowns affecting Jamil Ogiamien and Huy Nguyen during their detention at the maximum security Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, Ont. Source
  • Edmonton newlyweds arrested after post-wedding brawl

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    EDMONTON — A bride and groom spent their first night of wedded bliss in jail when Edmonton police arrested them after a post-wedding brawl in a downtown bar. It’s unclear how it all started, but photos and videos posted on social media show the fight on the weekend spilling out of the Denizen Hall bar and onto the street. Source
  • Civilians among dozens killed in Yemeni hotel bombing

    World News CBC News
    The top U.S. commander for the Middle East got a first-hand look on Wednesday at Saudi Arabia's military fight against Yemen's rebels, visiting the border area on the same day the Saudi-led coalition was accused of bombing a hotel and killing civilians. Source
  • Passenger tried to board plane with gun in garment bag, police say

    Canada News CTV News
    A Toronto-bound passenger was arrested at Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport after an unloaded gun was found inside a garment bag at pre-boarding screening on Monday. The suspect attempted to clear the firearm through domestic screening to bring on the plane as carry-on luggage before his flight to Toronto, RCMP said in a media release issued Wednesday. Source
  • Italy quake survivor, 11, says it's a miracle to be alive

    World News CTV News
    MILAN -- The 11-year-old boy who was rescued in a 16-hour operation that also freed his two younger brothers after the earthquake that struck the island of Ischia said in an interview with Italian media Wednesday that "it is a miracle we are all still alive. Source
  • Alberta Health warns of creepy breast exam scam

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Alberta Health Services says it has received several reports of a creepy new scam in which a man claiming to be from a medical imaging clinic has tried to get women to conduct a breast self-exam while on the phone with him. Source