New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif on Thursday to wish him on the World Cup in Australia and the two bonded over cricket after months of strained ties.PM Modi tweeted this morning that he had spoken to Mr Sharif and the heads of other SAARC countries whose teams are playing in the World Cup to wish them luck.
“Spoke to President @ashrafghani, PM Sheikh Hasina, PM Nawaz Sharif & President Sirisena. Conveyed my best wishes for the Cricket World Cup,” he tweeted.
Sources have told NDTV that PM Modi joked about Nawaz Sharif playing in a warm-up World Cup match in 1987 alongside cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who is now Pakistan’s top opposition leader.Mr Sharif reportedly laughed and said, “Kash vo Din Dubaara Aata (I wish those days would come back.)”After breaking the ice with cricket, the two leaders went on to discuss diplomacy, said sources.
PM Modi reportedly sounded out Nawaz Sharif on India’s initiative to send new Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on a “SAARC yatra” or tour of South Asian countries, including Pakistan.
Sources say Mr Sharif then discussed the possibility of resuming foreign secretary level talks, which were cancelled in August last year amid a row over the Pakistan envoy’s move to engage with Kashmiri separatists. Ties worsened over a series of ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
Today, PM Narendra Modi also tweeted, “5 SAARC Nations are playing & are excited about the World Cup. Am sure WC will celebrate sportsman spirit & will be a treat for sports lovers…Cricket connects people in our region & promotes goodwill. Hope players from SAARC region play with passion & bring laurels to the region.”
India take on Pakistan in its first cricket World Cup match in Adelaide on Sunday.
Mr Modi spoke to the Pakistan PM hours after US President Barack Obama had called Mr Sharif.
As the World Cup began on Thursday, the Prime Minister had tweeted individual wishes for each member of Team India, including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and vice captain Virat Kohli.