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In brief congratulatory message to new Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif, PM Modi avoids call for peace & terror-free environment

With India also set to go into parliamentary polls in April-May this year, Modi, however, this time refrained from reiterating his government’s willingness for peace with Pakistan.
Last Updated 05 March 2024, 06:08 IST

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday congratulated new Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif a day after latter commenced his second term in the office.

PM Modi congratulated him in a brief message on X on Tuesday, avoiding any call for peace or end of terror or restoration of normal relations between the two neighbouring nations.

“Congratulations to @CMShehbaz on being sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” Modi posted on X on Tuesday.

He, however, refrained from calling for an end to the export of terror from Pakistan to India. He also avoided responding to Shehbaz Sharif’s call to the National Assembly of Pakistan to pass a resolution seeking freedom of Kashmir, a part of a Union Territory of India.  

In August 2023, Shehbaz had stepped down as PM after the country went into poll mode and his government was succeeded by a caretaker administration.

When Shehbaz had first taken over as the prime minister, Modi had congratulated his new Pakistani counterpart, even as the leader of the neighbouring country had raked up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir soon after being elected to the top office. 

“India desires peace and stability in a region free of terror so that we can focus on our development challenges and ensure the well-being and prosperity of our people,” Modi had posted on Twitter (now X), congratulating Shehbaz.

He had also conveyed New Delhi's desire for a region free of terror even after the new prime minister of Pakistan had alleged in a speech in the National Assembly of the neighbouring country that the blood of Kashmiris had been flowing on the roads of Kashmir after New Delhi had stripped the state of its special status and reorganized it into two different union territories on August 5, 2019.

With India also set to go into parliamentary polls in April-May this year, Modi, however, this time refrained from reiterating his government’s willingness for peace with Pakistan.

Home Minister Amit Shah in August 2023 had told the Lok Sabha that India would not hold talks with Pakistan. He had made the comment after Shehbaz, then at the end of his first term as the prime minister, had subtly flaunted Pakistan’s nuclear power and warned of a nuclear flashpoint even while expressing its willingness to talk to India on “serious matters”.

Islamabad has been insisting over the past few years that it can restart negotiations with New Delhi only if the Modi Government reversed its August 5, 2010 move on Kashmir. India outrightly rejected the demand of Pakistan.

Shehbaz Sharif, 72, is the brother of Pakistan’s three-time prime minister, M Nawaz Sharif, who had in October 2023 returned to the country after a four-year-long self-exile in the United Kingdom.

The Sharifs led the campaigning of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) ahead of the February 8 parliamentary elections. The independent candidates backed by incarcerated former prime minister, Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician and the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), won most of the seats in the National Assembly. However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) formed a coalition government.

Nawaz Sharif, 74, however, decided not to take the office of the prime minister and instead chose his 72-year-old younger brother Shehbaz Sharif to lead the government.

Shehbaz had first taken over as the prime minister after Imran Khan’s government had lost a trust vote in the National Assembly in April 2022 and the PTI supremo had had to leave the top office.

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(Published 05 March 2024, 06:08 IST)

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