Imran congratulates Modi for electoral win, echoes call for talks

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Shamim Mehmood

ISLAMABAD

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday congratulated Indian premier Narendra Modi on his victory in the country’s national elections.

“I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Imran tweeted after official confirmation that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was returning to power for the next five years.

“Pakistan has consistently maintained that the only way to resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is through implementation of UNSC resolutions. Dialogue is hence essential,” Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal told reporters at the weekly briefing earlier in the day.

“We remain committed to the same, irrespective of whoever forms the new Government in India,” he added while responding to a question about Pakistan’s expectations from the new government in India.

Just a day before the formal announcement of final results, foreign ministers of Pakistan and India held an unexpected ‘informal’ meeting at the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) gathering in Kyrgyzstan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he conveyed his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj Pakistan’s desire to resolve all issues through dialogue.

This was the first interaction between the two countries at the foreign ministers level since PM Imran formed the government and importantly after the military standoff in February this year.

Some observers believe that as elections were over and Modi returning to power, New Delhi may revisit its pre-election hard line stance towards Islamabad.

Last month, PM Imran had said that the two countries had a better chance of rapprochement under the rightwing Modi administration than the opposition Congress.

When asked to comment on the surprise interaction between Qureshi and Sushma, the spokesperson said the foreign minister could only dilate upon the issue himself.

Dr Faisal also reiterated Pakistan’s stance calling for dialogue between Iran and US to resolve all the contentious issues.

“Pakistan always supports dialogue and desires that all issues should be settled peacefully and through engagement by all sides. If required, Pakistan is ready to play a constructive and positive role in this regard,” the spokesperson added.

While confirming the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the spokesperson said Pakistan was increasingly concerned about the tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

“We expect all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move, can transmute into a large-scale conflict,” he stressed.