Sharif says he will pick up threads of Atal’s rule

New Delhi :  Arriving here with a “message of peace”, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said that he intends to pick up the threads with Narendra Modi from where he and then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee left off in 1999.

Sharif, who is in the national capital for the swearing-in and staying overnight, arrived here from Lahore, where he said he was going to New Delhi with a “message of peace”.

Later, speaking in the Capital, the Pakistan Prime Minister said both governments have a strong mandate and this could help in “turning a new page in our relations”. Sharif will have a bilateral meeting with Modi on Tuesday during which the two sides are expected to discuss ways to enhance cooperation.

The Pakistan leader also said that this was a chance to reach out to each other while noting that no two nations have ever possessed so much cultural and traditional similarities as India and Pakistan. “Why not turn the similarities into our strength. I very much look forward to meeting Mr Modi. We should remove fears, mistrust and misgivings about each other,” he was quoted as saying. Both countries should rid the region of instability and security that has plagued it for decades, he added.

Sharif’s visit is seen as significant by political observers given that hawkish elements in Pakistan tried to scuttle his trip. No breakthrough is expected during the current visit but it will provide the two leaders an opportunity to cultivate personal relations which may go a long a way in reducing tensions.

Sources said it is expected that Sharif will also extend a formal invitation to Modi for a visit.

After the swearing-in ceremony, Sharif said he felt honoured to be part of the event. “I think people of both countries are very happy… I feel honoured to be part of the ceremony,” he said replying to a question by reporters.

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