On his first day in office, India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. This meeting was an historical event in the history of both countries, as it was the first time a prime minister from Pakistan was present at the inauguration of an Indian prime minister.
With a history of conflict between the two countries, both prime ministers seek reconciliation and plans to move forward in peace. India’s Foreign Secretary, Sujatha Singh, stated that during Modi’s meeting with Sharif, Modi expressed his concerns regarding terrorism. He made it clear that Pakistan should stand by its commitment in ensuring that “its territory and territory under its control” should not be used for terrorism against India. A portion of the peace talks and plans to build a stronger relationship between the two countries involved discussion of trade. According to Singh, the prime ministers decided on an immediate effort to stabilize trade ties and made plans for foreign secretaries to meet in the near future in order to move forward with the bilateral agreement.
Prime Minister Sharif stated that his meeting with Prime Minister Modi “….provides us the opportunity of meeting the hopes and aspirations of our people that we will succeed in turning a new page in our relations.” Through Twitter, Modi also expressed the positive connection that he was able to establish with Sharif. He said that Sharif had shared “some very emotional things.” In addition to his peace talks with Pakistan’s prime minister, Modi has also made efforts towards building stronger relations with the leaders of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Prior to being elected prime minister, Modi, who is Hindu, was seen as an “anti-Muslim” by Pakistan as well as some western countries. He carried this reputation mainly due to the riots that took place against Muslims in 2002 in the Indian state of Gujarat, where he was the chief minister. As a result of the riots, 1,000 people died. Due to the lack of action Modi took against stopping the riots, he was denied a visa to the United States.
It might appear that the people of India have chosen to forgive Modi, who won by a landslide in the elections. Following his victory, he tweeted in celebration, stating “India has won!” In addition to his meeting with Prime Minister Sharif, Prime Minister Modi is beginning his term in office by creating a “100-day agenda” which addresses the matters of government efficiency, delivery and implementation. He has stated that there are 10 key issues that are a priority in the interest of India’s development. These ten points include boosting the economy, improving education and health, restoring confidence in bureaucracy and ensuring that the system best serves the people. Modi has promised to work hard in order to make the dreams of India’s 1.25 billion people come true. While working in Gujarat, he was a contributor in helping boost the economic growth of India. This smaller accomplishment may increase the hopes of Indians, leading them to believe that he could achieve the same success for the entire country.
By: Sarah Temori