Reflecting a chill in bilateral relations, waving at each other was all that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif did today as they attended the UN peacekeeping summit.
Assembling for the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping hosted by US President Barack Obama, Mr. Modi walked into the conference hall first and took his seat at the right-side of the horse-shoe shaped table in chamber hall.
Mr. Sharif walked in a few minutes later and took his seat right across from Mr. Modi at the left-side of the table. The two leaders did not immediately wave or smile at each other.
Just minutes before the programme was about to begin, Mr. Sharif waved at Mr. Modi, who on seeing Mr. Sharif waving at him, smiled back and responded with a wave. After a brief pause, Mr. Modi waved again to Mr. Sharif, who smiled back and nodded his head.
Apart from the wave, there was no other interaction or gesture between the two leaders.
Since they had reached the chamber just minutes before the summit was to begin, they took their seats and did not walk around the room to meet or greet any other leaders present. They clapped at the end of each other’s speech.
On Mr. sSharif’s side of the table was seated US President Barack Obama, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and leaders from Rwanda, Ethiopia.
On Mr. Modi’s side were the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and leaders from France and Indonesia. Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif were in the chamber for almost an hour and a half and the Indian leader left immediately after addressing the summit. He did not walk up to any leader to shake hands. Mr. Sharif left the summit about 10-15 minutes after Mr. Modi.
Before taking his seat next to Indian leader, Mr. Abe had walked up to him and cordially shook his hands.
Mr. Modi, sitting in his chair, also smiled back and shook hands with the Japanese leader.
Mr. Sharif and Mr. Modi were staying in the same hotel and the summit was the only platform where they were under one roof during their stay in the city for the UN General Assembly.
Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif had last met in Ufa, Russia, in July on the sidelines of the BRICS and SCO summits. India-Pak ties are going through a chill particularly after last month’s cancellation of NSA-level talks following differences over the agenda proposed by Islamabad, and a planned meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz.
2015 Kashmir Despatch