Modi thanks estranged leaders of Canada, Pak

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Modi thanks estranged leaders of Canada, Pak

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Modi thanks estranged leaders of Canada, Pak

In the backdrop of frosty ties between India and Canada, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday responded to a congratulatory message from his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau and said New Delhi looks forward to working with Ottawa based on mutual understanding and respect for "each other's concerns".

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, meanwhile, on Monday congratulated Modi for forming a Central Government for the record third time. In a social media post, Sharif said "Felicitations to Narendra Modi on taking oath as the Prime Minister of India."

Modi thanked Sharif for his congratulatory message. on retaining the top office for a third term. "Thank you @cmshehbaz for your good wishes," Modi said in reply to Sharif's message on X.

Incidentally, Pakistan Prime Minister’s "felicitations" come days after Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in an official statement it would be premature to congratulate Modi.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister and ruling party chief Nawaz Sharif also congratulated Modi for forming a Central Government for the record third time. He noted that the Lok Sabha election mandate reflects the confidence of the people in Modi's leadership and urged to "replace hate with hope".

"My warm felicitations to Modi on assuming office for the third time. 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 wrote on X. The ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Trudeau's allegations in September last year of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia.

New Delhi rejected Trudeau's charges as "absurd".

"Thank you @CanadianPM for the congratulatory message. India looks forward to working with Canada based on mutual understanding and respect for each other's concerns," Modi said in a post on 'X'.

In his June 6 message, Trudeau said Canada stands ready to work with the new Indian Government to advance the ties if they are anchored to human rights, diversity, and the rule of law.

"Congratulations to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his electoral victory. Canada stands ready to work with his Government to advance the relationship between our nations' peoples anchored to human rights, diversity, and the rule of law," the Canadian Prime Minister said.

India has been maintaining that the main issue between the two countries is that of Canada giving space to pro-Khalistani elements operating from Canadian soil with impunity. There have been instances of pro-Khalistani elements threatening to harm Indian diplomats. Days after Trudeau's allegations last year, India had asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country to ensure parity.

Canada subsequently withdrew 41 diplomats and their family members from India.

Nijjar, who was declared a terrorist by India, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in British Columbia in Surrey on June 18 last year. The murder is being probed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Incidentally, Prime Minister Modi took four days to reply to Trudeau’s congratulatory post, whereas he had promptly responded to similar well-wishes from other world leaders.

In a related development, Prime Minister Modi on Monday thanked world leaders for their wishes after he took oath for a third term in office.

Replying to the greetings of Ugandan President Yoweri K Museveni, Modi said in a post on X, "We will advance our strong partnership with Uganda. We were proud that Africa Union became a permanent member of G20 Presidency. We will further develop our historical connect in all areas."

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, his Slovenian counterpart Robert Golob, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates were among those whom Modi thanked for their wishes.

As regards Sharif, he was not invited to Modi's swearing-in ceremony. On the other hand, key figures from India’s neighbouring countries and the Indian Ocean region, including President Mohamed Muizzu of the Maldives, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ of Nepal, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka, attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi's oath-taking ceremony alongside the Union council of ministers on Sunday.

Ties between India and Pakistan have always been frosty, barring a few instances when the leaders of both nations sat together to ease the conflict. The exclusion of Shehbaz Sharif from the invitation list highlights the ongoing diplomatic tension between the two countries.

The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India's warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.

 The relations further deteriorated after India on August 5, 2019 announced the withdrawal of special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and the bifurcation of the state into two Union territories.

India has been maintaining that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility for such engagement.

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