Pakistan in turmoil after Jindal meets Sharif

Islamabad: Pakistani opposition parties on Friday questioned the government's silence over Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's meeting with Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal.

The Jindal Steel Works Group head's meeting at the hill resort Murree on Wednesday triggered wild speculation that a meeting between Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi may follow, Dawn News reported.

Pakistan People's Party member Nafeesa Shah asked at a session of the National Assembly's Standing Committee: "Why is the government quiet regarding the visit of Jindal?"

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Shireen Mazari wondered how Jindal, close to both Modi and Sharif, visited Murree when he only held a visa for Lahore and Islamabad.

Jindal and his delegation flew into Islamabad on Wednesday morning and were received by Sharif's son Hussain Nawaz and daughter Maryam Nawaz's son-in-law Raheel Munir.

"If he (Jindal) has come on a private visit, why did we receive reports regarding his welcome through the Foreign Office?" Mazari asked.

Defending the government, Standing Committee Chairman Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said the Minister for Information had given a clear statement on the Indian businessman's visit.

The Dawn quoted analysts as saying that Jindal's visit could be part of a back-channel contact to improve relations between New Delhi and Islamabad that dipped to new low after a Pakistani military court sentence to death alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The PTI has moved a resolution in the Punjab assembly airing its concern over the Jindal-Sharif meeting.

The party was angry over the government's decision to keep Jindal's visit and the meeting a secret.

"Jindal's secret visit to Pakistan after Jadhav's death sentence is significant," the party said.

The official confirmation of the meeting came after Sharif's daughter tweeted about it.

"Jindal is an old friend of the Prime Minister. Nothing 'secret' about the meeting and should not be blown out of proportion. Thank you," she wrote.

The JSW Group specializes in steel, energy and infrastructure projects.

Jindal was an honoured guest at the wedding of Sharif's grand-daughter in December 2015, the same event which Modi too attended.