Shehbaz matches Modi’s terse greeting

‘Good relations’ with all its neighbours including India, says PM Shehbaz Sharif to his Indian counterpart Modi

Kamran Yousaf March 07, 2024



Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday thanked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for congratulating him on his election victory as the foreign office said Pakistan always wanted ‘good relations’ with all its neighbours including India.

Shehbaz responded to Modi’s felicitation message on X, formerly Twitter, two days after the Indian prime minister posted a terse message.

There were consultations among the decision makers about the response of the newly-elected prime minister to Modi’s greetings given the fact that the Indian premier’s statement was very brief.
Unlike the past, Modi did not use the words such as His Excellency nor did he make any mention of a desire seeking peace with Pakistan. He also avoided a reference to terrorism, something his past statements always did.

Sources said Prime Minister Shehbaz was advised to respond the same way as Modi greeted him. That was the reason that Shehbaz’s message was also terse. “Thank you @narendaramodi for felicitations on my election as the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” he wrote on X.

“Modi’s terse congratulatory post to Sharif and Sharif’s equally terse response tell us all we need to know about the present state of India-Pakistan relations and what each leader thinks of the relationship these days,” commented Michael Kugelman, an expert on South Asia.

Meanwhile, speaking at the weekly briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan always would like to have good relations with all its neighbours, including India.

“However, these relations must be based on respect and equality. It is also important that issues of concern to Pakistan, including the support for terrorism, and extrajudicial and extraterritorial killings by India in Pakistan. Kashmir will always be a priority when such engagement takes place,” she added.
About the exchange of messages between Modi and Shehbaz, the spokesperson said the foreign office was waiting for the new government to give directions regarding its foreign policy priorities including ties with India.

“As you know, the Cabinet formation is yet to take place and once the Cabinet is in place, we will have a direction with regard to the foreign policy and Pakistan's relations with other countries, including its neighbours. We would then be in a better position to respond to queries on how this will impact Pakistan's interaction with India in coming days,” she said.

Moreover, Prime Minister Shehbaz received a briefing from the outgoing caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani and Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi on major foreign policy challenges.

Shehbaz was joined by Ishaq Dar, triggering speculations that the veteran PML-N leader may be this time appointed as the country’s foreign minister. Sources in the foreign office said they were getting the same signals but waiting for the final announcement.

Meanwhile, commenting on the visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi to the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region, the spokesperson said this seems part of India’s effort to portray “normalcy” in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

“We believe that these efforts to project normalcy are a facade and tourism cannot be promoted in a situation where local people are being intimidated and their rights and freedoms are being denied,” she said.

Modi undertook the visit to the restive region for the first time since his government unilaterally revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. His visit came just weeks before the parliamentary elections in India.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ