New Delhi, March 24 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and also called for talks with Islamabad, which is celebrating its Republic Day on Monday after a gap of seven years.
“I have written to Pakistan PM Mr Nawaz Sharif, conveying my greetings on the National Day of Pakistan,” PM Modi tweeted from his personal handle. “It is my firm conviction that all outstanding issues can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” said another tweet.
Modi’s gesture came amid a row in New Delhi over Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, inviting Kashmiri separatist leaders to a dinner to celebrate the Pakistan Day. Masarat Alam, whose release earlier this month led to a massive standoff between coalition partners, the PDP and the BJP, was also on the guest list.
Alam, who is considered the mastermind of state-wide stone-pelting in the summer of 2010 in which over 100 Kashmiris were killed, told reporters on Monday he is not attending. “No, I won’t be attending due to health issues. I will send my colleagues,” he said.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi on Sunday to understand Islamabad’s stand at the recent Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, besides informing him of the “ground situation” in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I don’t think the Indian government has objected to the invites. I suggest to media friends not to make an issue out of a non-issue,” Basit said. Last year, India had called off talks with Pakistan after Basit invited Hurriyat leaders at his residence for a dialogue.