Pak lawmaker says 'atmosphere beginning to thaw' after meetings with Indian leaders

Pulwama attack Photograph:( ANI )

PTI Lahore, Pakistan Feb 24, 2019, 05.56 PM (IST)

A Pakistani lawmaker from Prime Minister Imran Khan's party has met top Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Islamabad started backdoor contacts with New Delhi to defuse tensions between the two sides in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, a media report said Sunday.

"The government has begun backdoor contacts with India and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who was in India last week, has met Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj," the Express Tribune reported.

"I have communicated a positive note to the Indian leaders and I hope there will now be a change in their behaviour," Vankwani said on Saturday while talking to the paper over telephone.

He also met Minster of State for External Affairs General VK Singh, who has also served as the chief of the Indian Army.

The Sindh-based PTI leader, who is a lawmaker on minority seat, is in India as part of a 220-member delegation from 185 countries who attended the Kumbh Mela on an invite of the Indian government.

His visit comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries in the wake of February 14 suicide attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad that killed at least 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district.

Days after the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Modi said security forces have been given free hand to avenge the dastardly act.

Vankwani said he met Modi during an event and the Indian Prime Minister met him warmly, the paper reported.

He said he told Modi that he had come with a positive message and wanted to return with a positive message. He said later on Modi's directive, Swaraj also held a 25-minute-long meeting with him, the paper said.

"I told the Indian foreign minister that in Pakistan its captain's (Imran Khan) government now; he is a Pathan and he does what he says. We assure you that no Pakistani institution is involved in Pulwama attack. If India provides evidence, we will facilitate the investigation," the paper quoted Vankwani as saying.

According to the PTI leader, he told Swaraj that the two countries need to take lessons from past and not to hold on to it.

"Enmity can be brought to an end by befriending the enemy," he said, adding that he himself has returned after Ganga Ashnan (ablution) and never tells lies.

"I told them that we need to get out of politics of accusations," he was quoted as saying by the paper.

According to Vankwani, after the meeting he "felts that the atmosphere was beginning to thaw."

"Indian PM during his Rajasthan rally has hinted at holding dialogue with Pakistan," he added. 

Story highlights

The Sindh-based PTI leader, who is a lawmaker on minority seat, is in India as part of a 220-member delegation from 185 countries who attended the Kumbh Mela on an invite of the Indian government