Srinagar: The recent meeting between Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal — a close friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — was part of backchannel diplomacy between the governments of Pakistan and India, BBC Urdu said in a report on Thursday.

The report added that the government has informed the senior military officials about the same.

Away from the media glare, the meeting between Sharif and Jindal — who visited the country with his family members and some friends — was held at the former’s private residence in Murree last month.

The meeting fuelled wild speculations after the media broke the news, prompting Maryam Nawaz to tweet that “Jindal is an old friend of the prime minister. Nothing ‘secret’ about the meeting and [it] should not be blown out of proportion”.

The Foreign Office spokesman had claimed his office was unaware about any such meeting.

The BBC Urdu report quoted official sources that during a recent meeting the prime minister took Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa into confidence about his meeting with Jindal.

According to these sources, Sharif told the military leadership that Jindal had been sent by Indian authorities and that the meeting was an initiative to reduce tension between the two countries.

The report said the military leadership had also taken its senior officers into confidence about the prime minister’s meeting with Jindal. It said that Gen Bajwa had informed army’s senior officers that the meeting was part of backchannel diplomacy between the two countries.

 

According to the report, a close aide of Sharif told the BBC Urdu that the prime minister did not share with his party members the details of his meeting with Jindal. The prime minister just informed them that the Indian steel magnate was making effort for reducing tension between the two countries and that he had taken the military leadership into confidence about his meeting with him.

The report said the military leadership made it clear that the issue of convicted Indian spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, could not be discussed during any backchannel or diplomatic talks with India.

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