Sharif remark: Modi fans a row that never was

Narendra ModiModi raised the issue during his speech in Delhi, and called it “the biggest insult” of the PM. (PTI)

Hours before Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif were to meet in New York on Sunday, a controversy erupted over a reference the Pakistan Prime Minister had allegedly made for his Indian counterpart, during a breakfast meeting with two journalists on Friday.

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While both the journalists, Hamid Mir of Pakistan and Barkha Dutt of NDTV 24X7, played down the row, saying Sharif's remark of "dehati aurat" was in course of giving an analogy regarding dispute resolution, what blew up matters was Narendra Modi raising the same during his speech in Delhi, and calling it "the biggest insult" of the PM.

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The controversy began with a comment by Mir on Geo TV that Sharif had told Dutt and him, "It seems as if Manmohan Singh went to complain to Barack Obama about me like a 'dehati aurat'." In his meeting with the US President, Singh had raised attacks on India and said there were "no signs of diminution" in its terror campaign.

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Dutt took quickly to Twitter, saying "this (Mir's version) is a distortion entirely" and Sharif said "nothing of this kind". While there were bits of the interaction that were off the record, she said, this was a distortion of even the remarks off the record. And that Sharif never used a pejorative word about the PM.

Mir later tweeted that Dutt had left the venue to get her camera and that she was not present at all times during the interaction. At the same time, the Pakistani journalist also agreed that Sharif had not said anything derogatory about Singh.

Sharif later told NDTV that Singh "is a good man", and that during his meeting with the Indian leader, he would renew Pakistan's invitation to him to visit the country.

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