NEW DELHI: In a surprise move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan conveying his greetings on the eve of its National Day. The news was broken by Imran, who tweeted Modi’s message, “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.”
This is a significant development as it comes at a time when relations between the two countries are at an all-time low, following the Pulwama terror attack.
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"— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 22, 2019
Welcoming Modi’s gesture, Khan said, “I believe it is time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address & resolve all issues, esp the central issue of Kashmir.”
Earlier, Pakistani envoy Sohail Mahmood, in an address at the reception here, 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.
However, the MEA sought to underplay it, saying, “The PM sends a customary message on National Day to other Heads of State or Government. His message to Imran highlighted the importance of a terror-free South Asia.”
With the MEA deciding to boycott the event at the Pakistan mission in Delhi on Friday, an unnamed official appealed to the conscience of the guests, reminding them about India’s official line.
While PM greeted Pakistan, the foreign office in India boycotted the National Day celebrations at the Pak High Commission in New Delhi to protest its invite to Hurriyat leaders.
Pakistan Day is celebrated to mark the Lahore Resolution on March 23 each year. The Lahore Resolution, which is also called Pakistan Resolution, passed on March 23, 1940, is considered a major milestone in the Muslim struggle for an independent Muslim state which was later called Pakistan.
(With inputs from online desk)