Tuesday November 28, 2023

Politics or business? Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal meets PM in Murree

April 28, 2017

ISLAMABAD: A three-member entrepreneurs delegation from India, headed by steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal, had a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Murree on Wednesday.

It is understood that the meeting was sought by the Indian delegation supposed to play a role for reduction in tension between the two nuclear neighbours as their ties are currently at the lowest ebb. The sources hinted that the meeting could help in paving the way for a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in mid-June in Astana where the two leaders will be present to ink the ceremony of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) by Pakistan and India.

Sajjan Jindal is viewed as a close buddy of the Indian prime minister. Highly-placed sources told The News here on Thursday that Pakistan has no plan to seek a meeting with the Indian prime minister but could consider if the request was made by New Delhi. The sources said that Nawaz Sharif has already made it clear that India will have to agree for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute for normalisation of ties between the two countries and cease cruelties in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) forthwith while India has been linking it with stalling of so-called terrorism.

Sajjan Jindal is the Chairman and Managing Director of JSW Group of Companies diversified in steel, mining, energy, ports and infrastructure and software business. The JSW Steel is India's second largest private steel producer. The JSW Steel has formed a strategic tie-up with the world’s sixth largest and Japan's second largest steel producer JFE Steel. JSW Steel is also pursuing an ambitious expansion plan. Jindal is also the immediate ex-president of the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). 

According to a report, Jindal was accompanied by Sokiat Sangal and Virendar Babar Singh who took off from Kabul and landed in Pakistan’s capital on Wednesday after boarding a special plane. The trio headed to Murree where they called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Although a businessman, Jindal is hailed as an influential personality in power corridors as well. He was part of the delegation that visited Pakistan during the impromptu visit of Narendra Modi back in December 2015. Jindal reportedly hosted a lunch for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to India back in August 2014.

The recent meeting has significance in the backdrop of India-related issues, including the death sentence awarded to RAW agent Kalbhushan Yadav and the confessional video of TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan in which he categorically admitted links of the militant group with Indian spy agency RAW.

The Indian media has reported that the visit came against the backdrop of unabated violence in IHK, which prompted chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to ask Narendra Modi during a meeting on Monday to talk to the Hurriyat and other stakeholders. She also referred to former premier AB        Vajpayee’s Kashmir peace push and noted that Modi had repeatedly said he would follow Vajpayee’s “footsteps, whose policy is of reconciliation, not confrontation”.

Jindal, who flew into the Islamabad airport in a private aircraft with a small delegation, was received by Hussain Nawaz and Raheel Munir, a businessman who is the husband of Prime Minister’s granddaughter Mehrun Nisa. The Indian delegation then travelled to the Prime Minister's House in the capital for a meeting, sources in Islamabad told the Indian media.

Later, Jindal and his delegation were driven to the resort of Murree for a meeting with Nawaz Sharif. Confirmation of the contact came from Maryam Nawaz who has dismissed suggestions the meetings were “secret” in nature. She tweeted: “Mr Jindal is an old friend of the prime minister. Nothing ‘secret’ about the meeting & should not be blown out of proportion.” Indian External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said he had “no information” on the meeting.

Modi and Sharif could meet on the sidelines of the SCO meeting to be held in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana in June even though both countries are yet to confirm such a meeting. A source in the JSW Group told the Indian media that the Jindal and Sharif families have known each other for decades and this was a personal visit by the magnate. “When Nawaz Sharif last visited India for the oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as prime minister in 2014, even then the Pakistani prime minister had dropped by to see the Jindals in New Delhi,” the source said. Like the Jindal family, the Sharif family too has interests in the steel business. 

Agencies add: The prime minister in a meeting with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed complete implementation of recommendations of the DawnLeaks committee.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called on Nawaz Sharif and briefed him on important matters including DawnLeaks. Some important legal and administrative matters were needed to be decided for implementation of the report, so that recommendations of the committee could be immediately implemented after an announcement of the report.

According to a spokesman for the ministry, in the next 24 to 36 hours, work on these matters will be completed and after that, all the recommendations of the committee, along with implementation, will be formally announced.

The PkMAP chief, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, also called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. During the meeting, political matters came under discussion.