Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday thanked the Sharif brothers for their congratulatory messages on him becoming the premier for a third time.

Modi was sworn in on Sunday at a ceremony attended by leaders from Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. However, China and Pakistan were not present.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif offered a brief congratulations to his counterpart on his re-election, almost a week after the results came in.

“Felicitations to Narendra Modi on taking oath as the prime minister of India,” he posted on X, in the first official comments from Pakistan.

Former PM and PML-N President Nawaz Sharif also congratulated the Indian premier. “Your party’s success in recent elections reflects the confidence of the people in your leadership,” Nawaz said in a post on X.

“Let us replace hate with hope and seize the opportunity to shape the destiny of the two billion people of South Asia,” he added.

Hours later, PM Modi responded to the two, thanking PM Shehbaz for his “good wishes”.

To Nawaz, he said: “Appreciate your message Nawaz Sharif. The people of India have always stood for peace, security and progressive ideas. Advancing the well-being and security of our people shall always remain our priority.”

Nawaz had attended the ceremony when Modi became the prime minister for the first time in 2014, a complete rarity in the history of the nuclear-armed nations.

But the neighbours currently have minimal relations and ties have worsened during a decade under Modi, who has ramped up his Hindu nationalist agenda.

Pakistan suspended bilateral trade and downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi in 2019, after Modi revoked the limited autonomy of Indian-held Kashmir in a move widely celebrated across India.

PM Shehbaz has previously hinted at wanting to improve ties with India.

But analysts say Pakistan, a sixth of the size of India, has few levers to pull.

Modi’s “election campaign pivoted around anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric”, Zahid Hussain, an opinion writer and author, said in a Dawn op-ed last week.

“Modi’s campaign narrative made it absolutely clear that under his dispensation, the Muslims will be politically disempowered, economically marginalised, and deprived of their constitutional rights,” he said following the vote.

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