A day after concluding delegation-level talks with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in Islamabad, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will head to Lahore for meetings with the Governor and Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab Province.
Soon after his arrival in Lahore on Sunday afternoon, Krishna will call on Punjab Province Governor Sardar Muhammad Latif Khosa. This will be followed with a meeting Punjab Province Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
The meetings are likely to focus on bilateral issues of mutual interest to the countries. It is expected that former Pakistan Prime Minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Nawaz Sharif will be present during the meeting between Krishna and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Governor Khosa is a politician representing the ruling Pakistan People's Party. A former senator and a former Attorney General of Pakistan, he was appointed as the Governor of Punjab by the President Asif Ali Zardari after the assassination of previous incumbent Salman Taseer on January 11, 2011.
He was earlier Pakistan's Attorney General for a little over two years.
Governor Khosa had earlier co-authored an electoral fraud report with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto before she was assassinated on December 27, 2007.
Khosa was one of Bhutto's top aides.
The meeting with Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is scheduled for 12.35 p.m. local time.
Shahbaz Sharif, 62, is a well-known politician and has been chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab Province since 2008. This is his second stint in that office. He had earlier served as chief minister between 1997 and 1999.
He is the son of Mian Muhammad Sharif and the brother of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, besides being the joint owner of the Ittefaq Group of industries.
Between 1999 and 2007, his family and he went into self-exile in Dubai and London to avoid being prosecuted legally by the military regime of President General Pervez Musharraf on grounds of corruption and hijacking.
The presence of Nawaz Sharif at the Sunday meeting is being seen as significant, as he has been seen as pro-India in his political leanings.
It maybe recalled that he was the Prime Minister of Pakistan when the inaugural Delhi-Lahore Bus journey commenced on February 19, 1999. The bus then carried then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who attended a Indo-Pak summit in Lahore and was received by Nawaz Sharif at Wagah/Attari check-post.
The bus service was launched to permit divided families to visit relatives and to foster commerce and tourism, and was seen as a key element in the efforts of the Indian and Pakistani governments to improve what was till then frosty and tense relations
Relations were tense especially in the aftermath of the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests and the immediate Pakistani response of the Chaghai Hills tests.
Trial runs of the bus were undertaken on January 8 and January 14, carrying officials of both governments.
Vajpayee's bus journey and arrival in Pakistan in February 1999 was met with much fanfare on both sides of the border and attracted worldwide media coverage.
The inaugural bus also carried Indian celebrities and dignitaries such as Dev Anand, Satish Gujral, Javed Akhtar, Kuldip Nayar, Kapil Dev, Shatrughan Sinha and Mallika Sarabhai.
Both governments soon promulgated the 1999 Lahore Declaration, which pledged both nations to the peaceful resolution of bilateral disputes, especially that of the Kashmir conflict and deployment of nuclear weapons, while fostering friendly commercial and cultural relations.harif was also Pakistan's Prime Minister when the 1999 Kargil War happened.
The armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC).
The conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay, which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector.
The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the two states.
During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan's Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff showed the involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces led by General Ashraf Rashid.
The Indian Army, later on supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants.
Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC under diplomatic pressure from the West.
Nawaz Sharif was removed as Prime Minister on the night of October 12, 1999 by his then Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf in bloodless military coup. He was initially imprisoned in Lahore and Attock, but later sent into self-exile for more than a decade under an agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Krishna's meeting with Nawaz Sharif would be significant, as by doing that, he would have met entire gamut of political leadership during his latest visit to Pakistan. By Smita Prakash (ANI)