Will Modi's birthday surprise to Nawaz Sharif backfire at home?
The PM's gesture is a departure from his government's erstwhile 'no-engagement' stand with Pakistan.
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On December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through his personal Twitter handle, announced his unscheduled stopover in Lahore to meet Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, sending media into a tizzy.
Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 25, 2015
Earlier, Modi's Russia sojourn was supposed to be the main highlight of his ongoing foreign visits. Even the Kabul visit was not widely talked about. However, his Pakistan "drop in" will surely become the talk of the town because it will have massive ramifications on Modi's politics at home. It may not go down well with certain sections of his own party and government as it is a massive breakaway from BJP's earlier stand of "no engagement with the troubled neighbour till it stops terror as a policy against India". Needless to say, it will draw criticism from Opposition parties.
Modi's realignment with Pakistan came into public view when he engaged with Sharif in a short yet deep and private conversation on the sidelines the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris in November. Thereafter, few secret NSA-level meetings took place between the two neighbouring countries. Sushma Swaraj's visit to Pakistan to attend the Heart of the Asia summit was only a confirmation that India had changed its Pakistan policy.
The external affairs minister had announced in Islamabad that PM Modi would visit Pakistan to attend the 2016 SAARC Summit.
However, only time will tell if this surprise birthday gift to the PM's buddy would make him the fountainhead of peace in the region or backfire at home.