Pakistan PM Khan replies to Indian counterpart Modi’s letter

Letter confirmed by officials says Pakistan desires ‘peaceful’ relations with all neighbours, including India.

Narendra Modi wrote to Imran Khan (above) on Pakistan's Republic Day calling for peaceful relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals [File: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday replied to a letter written by his counterpart Narendra Modi saying Pakistan desires peaceful relations with India.

Modi had written to Khan on the occasion of Pakistan’s Republic Day on March 23, also calling for peaceful relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Dated March 29, Khan’s letter was not officially released by either side but officials, speaking on anonymity, confirmed its contents that were shared widely on social media.

“The people of Pakistan also desire peaceful, cooperative relations with all neighbours, including India,” Khan said in his reply. “I thank you for your letter conveying greetings on Pakistan Day.”

Khan’s letter was dispatched to Modi a day ago, according to two government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. They said Khan in Monday’s letter called for the resolution of the dispute over the Kashmir region and all other outstanding issues between the two sides.

“We are convinced that durable peace and stability in South Asia is contingent upon resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, in particular, the Jammu & Kashmir dispute,” Khan wrote in the letter.

He also conveyed his best wishes to India in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neither the Indian nor Pakistani foreign ministries responded to requests for comment.

‘An environment of trust’

Modi’s letter congratulated Khan on his country’s annual Pakistan Day, which commemorates March 23, 1940. On that day, the Muslim leadership in the eastern city of Lahore demanded independence from British rule.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper quoted Modi’s letter as saying, “India desires cordial relations with the people of Pakistan … [and] for this an environment of trust devoid of terror and hostility is imperative.”

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and have shared a fractious relationship since the two gained independence from Britain in 1947. In February 2019, tensions rose dramatically as they sent combat aircraft into each other’s territory.

Relations between the two countries further deteriorated after the Modi-led government abrogated Indian-administered Kashmir’s limited autonomy in August 2019.

Both India and Pakistan claim the disputed Himalayan territory in full, but administer separate portions of it.

Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa recently called on both nations to bury the past after their militaries released a rare joint statement last month announcing a ceasefire along a disputed border in Kashmir.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies