ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a letter to his new Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, has called for bilateral engagement, sources confirmed on Monday. In the first official communication with the new administration in Islamabad, Modi called for building good neighbourly ties for security and prosperity in the region.
“Prime Minister Modi expressed India’s commitment to building good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan and pursuing meaningful and constructive engagement for the benefit of the people of the region,” said an Indian official source.
‘India has not called for dialogue so far’
The Indian response came soon after the newly-appointed Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Modi had mentioned dialogue in his letter. However, the official source said India had not called for dialogue so far.
“Prime Minister wrote of constructive approach or engagement for the benefit of the people, by which he meant Pakistan should create a conducive atmosphere.”
Modi also reminded Imran Khan to rid the region of violence, the source said. “He recalled their telephone conversation, in which they spoke of their shared vision to bring peace, security and prosperity in the Indian subcontinent, in order to make it free of terror and violence, and to focus on development.”
An Indian foreign ministry official confirmed that PM Modi did write to Khan on Sunday and “expressed India’s commitment to build good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan.”
Imran Khan, after his victory in the July 25 elections, had said that Pakistan was ready to respond positively to any effort on dialogue. “If India comes and takes one step toward us, we will take two,” Khan had said.
Prime Minister Modi had telephoned Khan to congratulate him on his party’s victory and hoped that “Pakistan and India will work to open a new chapter in bilateral ties.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in his first remarks upon taking charge, said he would bridge the trust-deficit with neighbours and try to build new bridges. “Coming to the table and talking peace is our only option. We need to stop the adventurism and come together. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage,” he said.
Qureshi indicated that Pakistan would stay focussed on the full implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which he described as a game-changer.
“We cannot turn our cheek. Yes, we have outstanding issues. Kashmir is a reality; it is an issue that both our nations acknowledge. India and Pakistan have to move forward keeping realities before them,” he said.