Islamabad : Though Pakistan and India on Friday made an attempt in Russia to revive a stalled bilateral dialogue process in a step towards ending recent bitter hostilities, opposition parties back in Pakistan were not impressed.
Mussadik Malik, the prime minister’s spokesman, in a conversation with Dawn, dubbed the meeting between the two sub-continental leaders as a “victory for Pakistan”.
India initiated efforts for revival of bilateral talks after having unilaterally called off a secretarial-level meeting last year, he maintained.
But soon after the two prime ministers — Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi — shook hands at the Congress Hall in Ufa signalling a ceasefire in a heated political arena, an infuriated Senator Rehman Malik, of the opposition Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), expressed sharp criticism of the ice-breaker meeting.
“The meeting (of) Modi with Sharif clearly demonstrates how disrespectful Modi was towards Sharif,” Malik was cited in a statement as saying.
The former interior minister compared Modi to “the Tsar of Russia” as he described how the two state leaders interacted.
“(Our prime minister) was made to walk through a long corridor towards Modi’s chair/throne. (Modi) didn’t show the slightest courtesy under diplomatic norms for his Pakistani counterpart to walk a few steps forward to receive him.”
At the end, he termed Modi’s approach “rude and undiplomatic” and chastised Sharif for “badly hurting the feelings of the Pakistani nation”.
Not one to be left behind, Shireen Mazari of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) expressed dismay over the manner in which Sharif “appeased India” at the meeting.
Mazari said Sharif’s invitation at the talks to the Indian premier to visit Pakistan was unnecessary and “beyond the requirements of diplomatic protocol” as the same would have gone out as a matter of routine.
The PTI leader was equally disturbed at “the silence on the Kashmir issue” and “Indian involvement” in Balochistan. “Modi raised Mumbai and Sharif agreed to ‘fast track’ the investigations. Not a word on Samjhauta Express (blasts) was uttered by Sharif,” she fumed.
Prime Minister Sharif’s spokesperson Malik expressed dismay at the criticism.
“With friends like him (Rehman Malik), who needs enemies,” he wondered.
“He is making a mountain out of a molehill. When two leaders of international stature meet, such minor details do not matter….”
He maintained that Modi was the one who initiated contact when he called Sharif to extend good wishes for Ramadan.
“Again, the Indian government confirmed the meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation….”