IN THEIR first conversation since the NDA government was re-elected for a second term three days ago, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday and said that he looked forward to advancing his vision for “peace, progress and prosperity”.
In response, Modi said that “creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential” for cooperation in fostering “peace, progress and prosperity” in the region. The indication was that India would stick to its redlines on dialogue with Pakistan, where it has maintained that talks and terror cannot go together.
India’s stand: Talks, terror can’t go together
Imran Khan’s call for talks after Narendra Modi’s emphatic win was expected. But Modi, who won a second term after acting tough on the Pulwama terror attack, has stuck to his government’s stand of linking talks to terrorism. The next step will be clear after a meeting between the two, possibly during the SCO summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, next month.
This was also the first conversation between the two leaders after the Pulwama terrorist attack in February this year, which was followed by the Balakot air strikes and Pakistan’s retaliation.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal tweeted: “PM (Imran Khan) spoke to PM Modi today and congratulated him on his party’s electoral victory in Lok Sabha elections in India. PM expressed his desire for both countries to work together for betterment of their peoples.”
He added: “Reiterating his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia, the Prime Minister said he looked forward to working with Prime Minister Modi to advance these objectives.”
Minutes later, the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi said: “Recalling his initiatives in line with his government’s neighbourhood first policy, Prime Minister Modi referred to his earlier suggestion to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to fight poverty jointly. He stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region.”
Khan’s call comes in the wake of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s statement that Pakistan is ready to hold talks with the new Indian government to resolve all outstanding issues.
Addressing an Iftar dinner in Multan Saturday, Qureshi said both India and Pakistan should sit on the negotiation table to solve issues for the sake of prosperity and peace in the region, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
On Thursday, Khan had congratulated Modi on his electoral triumph. “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Khan had tweeted in both English and Urdu.
On Wednesday, a day before the announcement of election results, Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj exchanged pleasantries on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Qureshi conveyed Pakistan’s desire to resolve all issues through dialogue.