India, Pakistan leaders resort to X diplomacy as Modi returns for third term

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -India and Pakistan’s leaders resorted to diplomacy via X on Monday, a day after Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister for the third time.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his elder brother and former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated Modi in posts on the social media platform within hours of each other, in what was Pakistan’s first response to the election results from across the border.

“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,” Nawaz said in one post.

Modi responded, saying “The people of India have always stood for peace, security and progressive ideas. Advancing the well-being and security of our people shall always remain our priority.”

Modi secured a record-equalling third term but lost his outright majority and is dependent on regional parties for support in his first coalition government.

Nuclear-armed rivals and neighbours India and Pakistan have fought three wars, including two over control of the disputed Kashmir region in the Himalayas.

Ties between the two have been frozen since India ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state in 2019 and split it into two federally administered territories.

They came closer to yet another war when India launched air strikes inside Pakistan to target what it said was a militants’ sanctuary.

New Delhi invited leaders of seven regional countries to Sunday’s grand inauguration at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, or president’s palace, in New Delhi but Sharif wasn’t included.

A few hours after Shehbaz Sharif had wished him well, Modi responded on X: “Thank you @cmshehbaz for your good wishes”.

The elder Sharif has always been a proponent of peace with India, which is said to be one of the reasons he fell out with his country’s powerful military in his last tenure from 2013 to 2017.

Analysts don’t see any chance of peace talks between the two sides anytime soon, however.

“Modi is not ready as yet,” said author and defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa. The two sides have some backdoor diplomatic initiatives, however, which may be a “a gentle start,” she said.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by YP Rajesh and Ros Russell)


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