NEW DELHI: Six months after the India, Pakistan bilateral talks went into deep freeze, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the warming process as he took to cricket talk over a phone call to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif even as he informed him that new Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will be dropping in soon as part of a “SAARC yatra”.
The resumption of talks between India and Pakistan was heralded appropriately on twitter, the PM’s favourite social media platform. “Spoke to (Afghanistan) President @ashrafghani, (Bangladesh) PM Sheikh Hasina, (Pakistan) PM Nawaz Sharif & (Sri Lanka) President Sirisena. Conveyed my best wishes for the Cricket World Cup,” Modi posted on Friday morning.
The PM’s “cricket diplomacy”, so dubbed by MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, is his first pan-SAARC initiative since he invited leaders of the region for his swearing-in in May last year. “5 SAARC Nations are playing & are excited about the World Cup. Am sure WC will celebrate sportsman spirit & will be a treat for sports lovers,” tweeted Modi. He noted that cricket “connects people in our region & promotes goodwill”. “Hope players from SAARC region play with passion & bring laurels to the region,” he added. “Would be sending our new Foreign Secretary on a SAARC Yatra soon to further strengthen our ties,” Modi added, significantly. While he did not give the order of destination, Pakistan will certainly figure in the list.
The PM’s call to Sharif went out just a few hours after US President Barack Obama gave a pat on the back to Islamabad for combating terror during a telephone conversation. In the same call, Sharif complained that India does not qualify to be a permanent UNSC member.