The Hindu (Mumbai)

Pakistan PM thanks Modi for greetings following election

- Suhasini Haidar

Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his greetings on social media on Thursday, even as the two countries showed no signs of any thaw in ties at present.

“Thank you [PM Modi] for felicitati­ons on my election as the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” Mr. Sharif said, in response to PM Modi’s equally short message of “Congratula­tions to [PM Sharif] on being sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.”

Significan­tly, the messaging was welcomed by Washington on Wednesday, which said it would also welcome talks between the two countries. “The United States values its relationsh­ip with both India and Pakistan, and we want to see them have a productive and peaceful relationsh­ip,” said U.S. State Department spokespers­on Matthew Miller at a regular briefing. “We would welcome productive and peaceful talks between India and Pakistan, but the pace, scope, and character of any dialogue is a matter for India and Pakistan to determine,” he added when asked a specific question about talks on Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr. Modi’s message to Mr. Sharif signalled India’s recognitio­n of the Sharif government despite the controvers­ial elections and allegation­s of rigging. However, officials and analysts on both sides pointed out that the greetings merely followed “protocol” and did not signify any added warmth in the public messaging between them from even a few years ago when Mr. Sharif was last sworn in.

In 2019, India and Pakistan expelled each other’s top diplomats, cancelled all trade ties, and closed virtually all exchanges other than religious pilgrimage­s from both sides. They have, however, continued to keep High Commission­s staffed in both countries.

Given the new Pakistan government’s preoccupat­ions and the country’s economic troubles, as well as India’s upcoming election season, few expect ties to improve in the foreseeabl­e future.

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Shehbaz Sharif

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