Peaceful Atmosphere Must, PM Modi Tells Imran Khan

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NEW DELHI / ISLAMABAD — Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a letter to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, greeting people of the neighbouring country on the eve of its National Day and highlighting the importance of a terror-free South Asia, official sources said Friday.

The prime minister, in his message, said it was time for the people of the sub-continent to work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence, they said.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Khan, in a tweet, welcome Modi’s message and said the time has come to begin a comprehensive dialogue between the two countries to address and resolve all issues, including Kashmir.

“I welcome PM Modi’s message to our people. As we celebrate Pakistan Day I believe it is time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address & resolve all issues, esp the central issue of Kashmir, & forge a new relationship based on peace & prosperity for all our people,” Khan tweeted.

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Modi’s message to Khan came in the midst of severe strain in ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours following the Pulwama attack and the subsequent air strike by India Pakistan’s Balakot, which was retialiated by Pakistan the next day.

Significantly, India Friday boycotted a reception at the Pakistan High Commission here to mark Pakistan’s National Day, objecting to invites extended to several Hurriyat leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for the event.

The official sources said the prime minister sends a customary message on National Days to other heads of state and government and added that his message to Khan highlighted the importance of a terror-free South asia.

They further said it was an unsigned letter which goes to Pakistan on its National Day as a standard diplomatic practice. Such letters are sent to all countries with whom India has diplomatic relations. 

Earlier, Khan also tweeted PM Modi’s message.

“Received msg from PM Modi: ‘I extend my greetings & best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan. It is time that ppl of Sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive & prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence’,” Khan said. 

Pakistani envoy Sohail Mahmood, in an address at the reception here, said Pakistan and India need to consolidate the process of de-escalation and stabilise the ties against further shocks, hoping that the “long winter” in bilateral relations would come to an early end.

He said both the countries should act with “wisdom” to normalise ties, asserting that “coercive measures” have not worked in the past and will not work in the future. 

The envoy said a key takeaway from recent developments was that a lack of engagement creates “dangerous vacuum and serious risks” for relations between the two neighbours, adding Pakistan has “turned a corner” in its fight against the scourge of terrorism.

He said the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, return of the two High Commissioners to their respective missions, and bilateral meetings on the Kartarpur Corridor “are steps in a positive direction”.

There has been heightened tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours after the Pulwama attack and subsequent air strike by India in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26, which was retialiated by Pakistan the next day.  


Observer News Service

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