ISLAMABAD: In their first telephone conversation after the Balakot airstrikes about three months ago, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan took the initiative to try to break the bilateral ice by calling up his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Sunday to greet him on his colossal victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
Modi, while thanking Khan, stressed on creating an environment free of terrorism, while reminding that the two countries should collectively fight poverty.
The prime minister reminded Khan that he had taken a number of initiatives as part of the neighbourhood-first policy of his government.
“The Prime Minister thanked the Prime Minister of Pakistan for his telephone call and greetings. The Prime Minister during conversation referred to his earlier suggestion to Khan to fight poverty jointly. Modi 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,” the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.
Indian warplanes had struck terror targets deep inside Pakistan, in Balakot, in retaliation to an attack on a CRPF convoy in J&K, which killed 40 jawans.
Ever since, Balakot became an election issue, with the BJP showcasing it as an example of its robust response to terror.
“Ghar mein ghus kar marange,” (we’ll enter their houses and take them out) Modi had said about terrorists operating from Pakistani soil.
For his part, Khan reiterated his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia, adding he looked forward to working with Modi, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said on Twitter.
Both leaders are scheduled to meet at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan next month.
Modi also received telephone calls from former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed and former prime minister of Nepal Madhav Nepal.
“Former president Nasheed congratulated the Prime Minister on the historic mandate. He stressed that relationship between Maldives and India had deepened in recent times,” the MEA statement said.
There was speculation on Modi travelling to Maldives early next month, making it his first bilateral visit after retaining power.
Oath of office on Thursday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers will take the oath of office and secrecy on Thursday. The Rashtrapati Bhavan ceremony will begin at 7 pm.