Former Pakistan president Pervez Mushraf had originally invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan in 2005. But now it appears that his namesake new premier Raja Pervez Ashraf may get a chance to host him in Islamabad or Lahore, provided relations remain in top diplomatic gear.
The government is debating the feasibility of Singh undertaking a “private visit” to Pakistan later this year, weighing the diplomatic pros and cons and taking into account the latest bout of political instability and direct confrontation between the executive and the superior judiciary.
Though, officially the government here described the tussle between the constitutional bodies an internal matter of Pakistan, it is believed here that deposed prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani had provided a measure of stability to the governance of the country. A major achievement of Gilani government was according the MFN status to India.
Soon after President Asif Ali Zardai’s pilgrimage to Ajmer which he mixed with a political luncheon in Delhi last April, officials had been preparing a pitch to allow the Singh to return the visit, by attending the Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations in Nankana Sahib near Lahore in November. None among the government wants to take a chance of advising him to undertake either a “state” or the “official” visit to Pakistan, keeping in view the pitfalls and risks of its failure.
It is reliably learnt that the Prime Minister was keen to visit Pakistan before 2014 general elections. The issue shall figure at the talks between the foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani, now scheduled early next month. They were earlier proposed to be held on June 29 in New Delhi. Similarly, external affairs minister S M Krishna’s visit may also be rescheduled to either last week of July or in August to review progress in bilateral relations.
While a section in the government believes that Singh’s visit shall help strengthening democratic forces in Pakistan, others are skeptical that a fledgling government fighting for its own survival could not commit to address Indian concerns or even to move forward on deliverables. They therefore have been suggesting that handling of Pakistan’s power centres individually and independently at the same time, like Americans.
Since former President Pervez Musharaf’s invitation, Gah village, the birthplace of Manmohan Singh had been refurbished several times, in anticipation his visit. As Pakistan is reeling under load shedding, this is perhaps the only village , which has its streets lit, thanks to Indian Energy Research Institute, which had installed solar lights on the streets.