Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sent a message to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, greeting people of the neighbouring country on the eve of its National Day, official sources said.
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.
Modi’s message to Khan comes in the midst of severe strain in ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours following the Pulwama attack and the subsequent air strikes by India on a JeM terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.
Significantly, India on Friday boycotted a reception at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to mark Pakistan’s National Day, objecting to invites extended to several separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for the event.
Imran 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’ (sic),’ Khan said.
‘I welcome PM Modi’s message to our people. As we celebrate Pakistan Day I believe it’s time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address and resolve all issues, especially (the) central issue of Kashmir and forge a new relationship based on peace and prosperity for all our people,’ the Pak PM said.
Earlier, Pakistani envoy Sohail Mahmood, in an address at the reception in New Delhi, 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’.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s training camp near Balakot in Pakistan on February 26.
Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.
The Indian strike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in which 4q soldiers were killed.