External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna arrived back home here on Sunday evening after completing a successful three-day visit to Pakistan, during which, delegation-level talks took place with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on the next steps in the ongoing dialogue process, followed by a stopover in Lahore.
During his visit to Islamabad, India and Pakistan inked an agreement to introduce a new visa regime that is more people and business friendly, and a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance bilateral cultural ties.
At the conclusion of the talks in Islamabad on Saturday, both the Indian and Pakistani delegations reaffirmed the importance of carrying forward the dialogue process with a view to resolving peacefully all outstanding issues through constructive and result oriented engagement, and to establish friendly, cooperative and good neighborly relations.
Krishna and Khar said they had reviewed the status of bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction with the progress made so far.
Both further expressed satisfaction over the outcome of meetings on issues related to counter-terrorism (including progress on Mumbai trial) and narcotics control; humanitarian issues; commercial and economic cooperation etc.
Other issues such as the Wullar Barrage / Tulbul Navigation Project; Sir Creek; Siachen; Peace and Security, including confidence building measures; Jammu and Kashmir; and promotion of friendly exchanges were also discussed, and progress welcomed.
Both ministers said the dialogue process is guided by the commitment of leadership of the two countries, expressed at the highest level, to find peaceful and mutually acceptable solutions to all outstanding issues and to build a relationship of trust and all round cooperation between Pakistan and India.
They also expressed satisfaction at the increase in high-level bilateral exchanges between the two countries since their last meeting in New Delhi in July 2011.
During his stay in Islamabad, Krishna called on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Mohammad Ashraf and conveyed the best wishes of the Indian Government and the people of India. During these two meetings, pleasantries were exchanged, and a broad overview of bilateral ties was gone through.
In Lahore, on Sunday, Krishna called on the Governor and the Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab Province.
Krishna's meeting with Punjab Governor Sardar Muhammad Latif Khosa lasted for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Krishna then called on Punjab Province Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif at his official residence in the city.
Sharif personally received Krishna at the entrance of his residence and later introduced him to members of his cabinet, senators, members of the Pakistan Parliament and Punjab provincial assembly, besides other invited guests.
He welcomed Krishna to Pakistan and to Lahore specifically. He described Krishna's visit to Pakistan as one of great pleasure, a visit that was constructive, and one that has achieved much along the right lines.
Expressing happiness and satisfaction over moves by New Delhi and Islamabad to facilitate to and fro bilateral visits, Sharif further said that such trips provide better opportunities for the leaderships and people of the two countries to interact.
Krishna thanked Chief Minister Sharif for according him and his delegation a warm welcome, and reportedly reciprocated the former's feelings and views for taking bilateral ties in all areas between the two countries forward.
Before departing for India from Lahore, Krishna visited Data Darbar, Minar-e-Pakistan and the memorial of Sikh King Ranjit Singh.
The Data Durbar is one of the oldest Muslim shrines in the subcontinent. Krishna visited it to pay his respects to Sufi saint, Abul Hassan Ali Hajvery a.k.a Daata Ganj Baksh, who is said to have lived on the site in the 11th century.
The shrine is located near the Bhati Gate that leads into Lahore's Walled City. It was originally built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim in the late eleventh century, and has been expanded several times.
For centuries both Muslims and Hindus visited his tomb in search of his blessings, but since the partition of the Indian subcontinent, most visitors have been Muslim.
The External Affairs Minister also visited the 92-meter-tall Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore's Iqbal Park, built in commemoration of the Lahore Resolution. The minaret was constructed on the site where on March 23, 1940, seven years before the formation of Pakistan, the Muslim League passed the Pakistan Resolution, demanding the creation of Pakistan.
He also visited the tomb of 19th century Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh located near the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque in Lahore.
Ranjit Singh's son Kharak Singh started the construction of the tomb at the spot where he was cremated. His youngest son, Duleep Singh, completed it in 1848. By Smita Prakash (ANI)