Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has written a letter to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, pitching for a “meaningful” engagement and a “peaceful resolution” of all outstanding issues by the two countries, people familiar with the development said on Sunday.
Mr. Sharif's communication on Saturday came in response to a letter sent by Mr. Modi to the Pakistani leader congratulating him on becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan, they said.
In the letter, Mr. Sharif said the socio-economic development of the people of the two countries as well as the region could be achieved through meaningful India-Pakistan engagement and peaceful resolution of "all outstanding disputes", including that of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Sharif said "peaceful and cooperative" ties between Pakistan and India were imperative for the socio-economic development of the people of the two countries and the region.
This, he said, can be best achieved through “meaningful engagement and peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu & Kashmir”. In his letter a few days back, Mr. Modi conveyed to Mr. Sharif that India desired constructive ties with Pakistan.
Mr. Sharif said Pakistan remained committed to maintenance of regional peace and security.
On April 11, the Pakistan Parliament selected Mr. Sharif as the 23rd Prime Minister of the country, a day after Imran Khan was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote
In a Twitter post, Mr. Modi congratulated Mr. Sharif on becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan and said India desired peace and stability in a region free of terrorism.
"Congratulations to H. E. Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on his election as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. 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," he tweeted on April 11.
In his response, Mr. Sharif said Pakistan desired peaceful and cooperative ties with India.
"Thank you Premier Narendra Modi for felicitations. Pakistan desires peaceful & cooperative ties with India. Peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes including Jammu & Kashmir is indispensable. Pakistan's sacrifices in fighting terrorism are well-known. Let's secure peace and focus on socio-economic development of our people," the Pakistan Prime Minister tweeted.
India has been maintaining that it desired normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus was on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility for such an engagement.
The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after Indian warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.
The relations further deteriorated after India in August 2019 announced withdrawing the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and the bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories.
"The government's consistent position has been that India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and is committed to addressing issues, if any, bilaterally and peacefully in an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence," Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said in Parliament on April 7 while replying to a question.
"The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere," he added.