Historic Rivalry: Modi and Sharif Exchange Peace Overtures Amid Political Milestones

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated India's Narendra Modi on his third term as PM, despite ongoing tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Modi's coalition government marks a political shift, while backdoor diplomacy offers a glimmer of hope for future peace talks as past conflicts remain a shadow.

Reuters | Updated: 10-06-2024 18:02 IST | Created: 10-06-2024 18:02 IST
Historic Rivalry: Modi and Sharif Exchange Peace Overtures Amid Political Milestones
Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday congratulated arch rival India's Narendra Modi on being sworn in as prime minister for a third term, in the first response by Islamabad to election results across the border.

"Felicitations to @narendramodi on taking oath as the Prime Minister of India," Sharif said in a post on X, a day after Modi was sworn in and nearly a week after election results were declared on June 4. Modi secured a record-equalling third term but lost his outright majority and is dependent on regional parties for support in his first coalition government.

Nuclear-armed rivals and neighbours India and Pakistan have fought three wars, including two over control of the disputed Kashmir region in the Himalayas. Ties between the two have been frozen since India ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state in 2019 and split it into two federally administered territories.

They came closer to yet another war when India launched air strikes inside Pakistan to target what it said was a militants' sanctuary. New Delhi invited leaders of seven regional countries to Sunday's grand inauguration at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, or president's palace, in New Delhi but Sharif wasn't included.

"Thank you @cmshehbaz for your good wishes," responded Modi in a post on X. Sharif's elder brother and former three time prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, also congratulated Modi. "Your party's success in recent elections reflects the confidence of the people in your leadership. Let us replace hate with hope and seize the opportunity to shape the destiny of the two billion people of South Asia," he said in a post on X.

The elder Sharif has always been a proponent of peace with India, which is said to be one of the reasons he fell out with the country's powerful military in his last tenure from 2013 to 2017. Analysts don't see any chance of peace talks between the two sides anytime soon.

"Modi is not ready as yet," said author and defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa. The two sides have some backdoor diplomatic initiatives, however, which may be a "a gentle start," she said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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