Seize the opportunity, says Nawaz Sharif in message to PM Modi

“Your party’s success in recent elections reflects the confidence of the people in your leadership...” Nawaz Sharif told PM Modi in his message

Updated - June 10, 2024 10:22 pm IST

Published - June 10, 2024 10:09 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. File

Leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, and President of the ruling PML-N, Nawaz Sharif on Monday greeted the re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged that the two sides should “seize” the moment to shape the future of South Asia. The message from Mr. Sharif came on a day when the visiting dignitaries from the neighbourhood met the External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar.

“My warm felicitations to Modi Ji on assuming office for the third time. Your party’s success in recent elections reflects the confidence of the people in your leadership. Let us replace hate with hope and seize the opportunity to shape the destiny of the two billion people of South Asia,” said Mr. Sharif who had participated in the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Modi in May 2014. Mr. Modi had subsequently dropped by at Lahore and attended the wedding of the granddaughter of Mr. Sharif on 25 December 2015. The relation however went downhill following a terror attack in Pathankot on January 2, 2016.

A few hours before the message from Mr. Sharif, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif greeted Mr. Modi on ‘X’.

Responding to the message from the former Premier, Mr. Modi emphasised “peace, security and progressive ideas” and added, “Advancing the well-being and security of our people shall always remain our priority.” Exchange of pleasantries between the Indian and Pakistani side took place even as India welcomed leaders from the neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region for Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony where the Pakistani leaders were excluded.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Jaishankar met Vice-President Ahmed Afif of Seychelles, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ of Nepal, President Mohamed Muizzu of Maldives and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. Mr. Muizzu and Mr. Prachanda also called on President Droupadi Murmu later.

Unlike in 2014, when the visiting leaders and representatives of the neighbourhood were hosted for a semi-formal ‘mini-SAARC summit’, this time, however, the Prime Minister did not host a formal bilateral meeting with any of the visiting leaders. The foreign dignitaries attended a banquet dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan after Mr. Modi was sworn in. Mr. Modi met them informally on the sidelines of the main event on Sunday.

Later on Monday, Ms. Hasina met the leadership of the largest opposition party the Congress, consisting of leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. Following the meeting, Mr. Gandhi said the meeting included a discussion over “a wide range of topics” to enhance “natural bonds” between the two countries with emphasis on “trust, cooperation and a commitment to mutual growth”. During the meeting with the Congress leaders, Ms. Hasina was accompanied by her colleagues that included Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and the High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India Mustafizur Rahman.

Ms. Hasina has personal ties with the Gandhis as she resided in Delhi for several years after the assassination of her father Sheikh Mujib and most of her family on August 15, 1975. During her stay in Delhi, Ms. Hasina was in close contact with the family of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Mr. Jaishankar met Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe which drew criticism from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who reminded that Mr. Modi had raised the issue of ‘Katchateevu’ which had drawn India-Sri Lanka bilateral relation into the electoral campaign.

Mr. Ramesh said the controversy over the territory was ‘manufactured’ to serve political goals of Mr. Modi. “This was highly irresponsible and a severe distortion of history. It threatened to derail our relationship with Sri Lanka. The people of Tamil Nadu gave a befitting reply,” he said.

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