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From gifting a sari to inviting Kashmiri separatists, a look at India-Pakistan ties since Narendra Modi's swearing in

Monday, 18 August 2014 - 10:58pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

After the Bharatiya Janata Party won the Lok Sabha elections on May 16th, all eyes were on Narendra Modi, the man who led them to the thumping victory. The attention only magnified after his swearing in ceremony was announced to be held on May 26th, 2014.

Narendra Modi made a graceful attempt at reaching out to India's neighbours and invited all SAARC leaders. There were bilateral meetings with several of those leaders post the ceremony. PM Narendra Modi also invited Nawaz Sharif to the swearing-in ceremony.People of both the countries appreciated Modi's gesture. 

Indian Muslims, most of whom are wary of the PM's Hindutva credentials too welcomed the invitation.  Post the ceremony too, the air of positivity lingered on both sides of the border.

In Pakistan, a resolution against Narendra Modi over his "allegations" of terrorism against Pakistan was blocked in the Assembly of Punjab province, ruled by Premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party.

The opposition comprising Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, PPP, PML-Q and Jamaat-e-Islami wanted to bring the "anti-Modi" resolution in the 372-member house but Speaker Rana Iqbal did not allow it.

During the crucial bilateral meeting between Sharif and Modi on May 28, all contentious issues were discussed during the 45-minute meeting including Kashmir. The Mumbai attacks and Samjhauta Express incidents, too were discussed in the meeting apart from confidence building and enhancing bilateral trade. 

Breaking away from the norm, Sharif did not meet Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat representatives. He did not mention Kashmir in his pre-departure statement. Sharif stressed the need for moving forward in the dialogue process in the light of the Lahore Declaration signed in 1999 and work to resolve all outstanding issues.

Both countries had agreed to work together for eliminating terrorism. The talk was applauded by the Barack Obama administration in the United States. Obama said that it was "cautiously hopeful" about the improvement in the ties between the two neighbours. 

US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the Modi's move to invite Sharif for the ceremony. He had said that, "Prime Minister Modi took the important first step of inviting Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration. Both men are business-minded leaders who want to create opportunity for their people," 

The diplomatic bonhomie continued when Sharif sent a sari for Narendra Modi's mother. Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit had said that Modi would  be welcomed in Pakistan whenever he would wish to visit. "The genesis of all disputes finds origin in the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.... We need to resolve all the issues," he added while expressing Pakistan's strong commitment to improve ties with India for stability in the region.

Even while the India-Pakistan diplomacy was doing well, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said in Rajya Sabha that Pakistan had violated ceasefire 19 times since Modi became the PM.

The ceasefire violations have since then risen sharply. There have been 12 ceasefire violations in August itself notwithstanding the scheduled Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries which have now been cancelled. 

To make the situation worse, Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit invited several separatists, including Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, moderate leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of a breakaway faction of Hurriyat Shabir Shah and pro-independence JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik for holding separate talks in the national capital.  

This led to India calling off the talks that was to be held on August 25 in Islamabad. The Sharif government is currently facing heat due to an political internal strife. Tehreek-e-Insaf's chief and leader of Opposition Imran Khan along with Awami Tehreek leader and cleric Tahir-ul Qadri have been demanding Sharif's resignation over alleged poll rigging by his party. Khan had threatened to launch a civil disobedience movement. 

On August 18, Sharif's government failed to engage Khan in talks and put an end to the protest  Given the uncertain political situation in Pakistan and recent actions of the Pakistan High Commissioner in India, talks between the two countries seem to have hit a roadblock for now.

(With agency inputs)

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