ISLAMABAD - The government yesterday admitted in the Senate that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Pakistan was the outcome of pressure from international community as it had been forcing India to resume the dialogue process with its neighbouring country.

While briefing the Senate over the recent visit of Narendra Modi to Pakistan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said the foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet in ‘mid-January’ to set the agenda of talks for next six months on 10 identified subjects.

However, the advisor failed to satisfy the opposition in the Senate about the surprise visit of the Indian PM. The leader of the opposition said half information was furnished to the house.

Indian PM Narendra Modi’s unusual visit to Lahore along with his delegation and his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Raiwind invited criticism from the opposition parties in the upper house, which opined it was held in violation of normal as well as diplomatic norms. The lawmakers had questioned whether the visit took place under the US pressure.

“The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India will prepare a schedule to resume comprehensive dialogue on January 14-15, 2016, in Islamabad,” the adviser to the PM said while giving a policy statement in the Senate and expressed optimism that the visit would help resume the suspended dialogue.

Aziz dispelled the impression that wedding of the niece of PM Nawaz Sharif was the cause of the Indian PM’s visit and said, “Modi telephoned Nawaz Sharif during his trip to Afghanistan and expressed the desire to visit Pakistan to wish him happy birthday, which the PM accepted.” The PM told him that he would have to land in Lahore as he was there, the adviser added.

Rejecting the criticism of the opposition benches that Modi’s entourage visited Lahore without any visa, Aziz said about 100 members of his entourage stayed at the airport while visa requirements for Modi and those who accompanied him were met at the airport. He said journalists and dignitaries, as part of his delegation, were not allowed to go outside the Lahore airport. “Only the Indian PM and 11 of his personal staff members were issued a 72-hour visa,” he said, adding all immigration protocols were followed in this regard.

Referring to reports that a ‘secret meeting’ between the two prime ministers took place in Katmandu, he said there was no truth in whatsoever the Indian journalist had written in her recently launched book that both had held a meeting in Nepal on the sidelines of the Saarc conference.

“Both the prime ministers have met five times and the recent visit of Prime Minister Modi will certainly have an impact on the dialogue process which was suspended in 2013. The international media also lauded the visit,” he added.

At the same time, Aziz reminded the house that the government was not into any wishful thinking that the Indian PM’s first-ever visit since 2006 would help resolve all the issues between the two countries. “There will definitely be visible progress on some issues soon and pave the way for the rest of the issues gradually,” he added.

Aziz said the visit of Prime Minister Modi was largely appreciated by both the countries as well as the international community except some elements in India.

On a question of Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani about Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif’s recent visit to Afghanistan, Aziz said he could not comment because it was under the domain of the Ministry of Defence. He referred to a statement issued by ISPR and said the defence minister would brief the house. The chair, while showing displeasure, remarked the house does not need press reports. Rabbani pointed out that the communiqué about initiation of dialogue was in purview of the Foreign Office. “Can this house presume that you have given your powers to the Defence Ministry?” he questioned. Rabbani also said the house needs more information than the press releases of ISPR.

On the other hand, Khawaja Asif said he would brief the house on Thursday. When asked by the chairman, he said he was not sure whether it would be an in-camera briefing.

However, the opposition members expressed dissatisfaction over the briefing by the adviser about the Indian PM’s visit. Aitzaz Ahsan, the opposition leader in the Senate, remarked the briefing by the adviser was completely inadequate.

He said they fully supported improvement in relations between the two countries, but the government must take the parliament into confidence. He asked for an in-camera briefing to the house if it was ‘confidential’ for the government.