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Shaukat Aziz was on wooing-BJP mission
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 5
The just-concluded visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to India, though packed with diplomatic agenda, had a political mission too: Wooing the BJP.

During this visit Aziz met the BJP top brass and obtained assurances from Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani for visiting Pakistan later this year. Aziz met Vajpayee at the latter’s residence. Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha and former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra were present at this meeting.

Aziz extended an oral invitation to Vajpayee to visit Pakistan and added that an official invitation from the Government of Pakistan would be handed over to him soon. Vajpayee accepted the invitation in principle. The visit, likely to materialise in the next couple of months, would also pave the way for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s maiden Pakistan visit.

Rai Riaz Khan, minister (Press) in Pakistan High Commission here, told this correspondent that it was Aziz’s desire to meet Vajpayee as the two share an excellent rapport. Aziz was Vajpayee’s minister-in-waiting during Vajpayee’s Pakistan visit in January 2004. He was Pakistan’s finance minister at that time.

Advani attended a dinner hosted by Aziz here on April 3. Though leaders like former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh were also among the select few guests at the dinner, apart from Aziz’s minister-in-waiting union petroleum minister Murali Deora, Advani was the central attraction of the party. Advani told Aziz that he would be willing to undertake another visit to Pakistan only after the famous Katasraj temple gets renovated.

The Pakistan Government has over the past few years been consistently extending an olive branch to its Hindu minority and trying hard to improve relations with the BJP.

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