In the latest gesture between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to greet him ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts this week.
During the conversation, which lasted for around five minutes, Mr. Modi announced the release of detained Pakistani fishermen as “an act of goodwill,” Mr. Sharif’s office said in a statement Tuesday evening.
The released Pakistani fishermen “will be able to be with their families to observe this blessed month,” Mr. Modi said on social networking site Twitter. Details on the number of fishermen to be released and the timing were not disclosed.
In response, Mr. Sharif said in a statement that the two nations should “forget their differences and talk of war, and move towards peace and tranquility.”
“Pakistan and India should co-exist peacefully as they are neighbors, and they should not let their bilateral differences become hurdles in that path,” the statement added.
Mr. Modi first extended an olive branch to Pakistan when he invited Mr. Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony after his election last year, but since then, the fragile ties have soured with inflammatory remarks from both sides.
During a visit to Bangladesh earlier this month, Mr. Modi accused Pakistan of creating “nuisance” and “constantly troubling” India by promoting terrorism. Meanwhile, Indian military action along its eastern border with Myanmar last week rattled Pakistani leaders, who accused India of backing terrorist attacks on their land and slandering Pakistan at international forums.
Further, Pakistan last month refused to grant visas to Indian yoga instructors ahead of the first International Day of Yoga. India retaliated by rejecting the visa application of a Pakistani official to travel to New Delhi.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the partition of British India in 1947. Two of those conflicts were over the disputed region of Kashmir. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of sponsoring extremist groups that target India, while Islamabad accuses India of supporting terror outfits on their soil.
Cricket has often served as a diplomatic tool to ease relations though.
In February, Mr. Modi called Mr. Sharif to convey his best wishes for the 2015 Cricket World Cup. And in March, he again called the Pakistani prime minister to inform him about the visit of the Indian foreign secretary to his country as part of a tour of India’s neighbors.
Analysts feel Mr. Modi’s telephone call Tuesday could help resume dialogue between the two hostile nations.
“It is an optimistic development, a sign of goodwill in breaking the ice with Pakistan,” said Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian foreign secretary and one-time ambassador to the U.S.
But, “there is far too much a negative experience between the two countries to call it a diplomatic breakthrough,” Mr. Mansingh added.
Referring to Tuesday’s telephone call, Mr. Sharif said it reflected Mr. Modi’s wish “for good ties.”
via India’s Modi Makes Ramadan Call to Pakistan’s Sharif – India Real Time – WSJ.