Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal’s meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif near Islamabad on Thursday sparked speculation about back channel negotiations between the two countries. Sharif met with the JSW Group managing director along with two other Indian businessmen in Murree, ARY News reported.
The two other Indian nationals were identified as Suket Singhal and Virander Babar Singh. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman was “unaware of the arrival of the Indian delegation in Pakistan”, Samaa TV reported. The Pakistani government and JSW group have not commented on the matter yet.
On Twitter, however, Sharif’s daughter, Maryam dismissed reports that the meeting was secretly held. She said Jindal is an “old friend” of her father’s and their meeting should not be blown out of proportion.
Sharif’s political rival, Imran Khan’s, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf asked the Prime Minister to clarify the nature of his meeting with the Indian nationals. “We are concerned over the visit. Prime Minister Sharif has business relations with Indians,” Pakistani legislator Mian Mehmood-ul-Rasheed said.
The two governments are currently at loggerheads over the matter of former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row for alleged espionage acts in Pakistan.
Jindal was among Sharif’s guests, at the wedding of his granddaughter, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2015, The Indian Express reported. Officials told the English daily that Jindal has business and family ties with Sharif’s family.