Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and other heads of the Saarc nations participating in the ICC Cricket World Cup and conveyed his best wishes for the showpiece event.
“Spoke to (Afghan) President Ashraf Ghani, (Bangladesh) Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and (Sri Lankan) President (Maithripala) Sirisena. Conveyed my best wishes for the Cricket World Cup,” Modi tweeted.
Noting that five Saarc nations are playing and are excited about the World Cup, Modi said, “(I) am sure WC will celebrate sportsman spirit and will be a treat for sports lovers.”
“Cricket connects people in our region and promotes goodwill. Hope players from SAARC region play with passion and bring laurels to the region,” he said.
NDTV news channel cited unnamed sources as saying that PM Modi joked about Sharif playing in a warm-up World Cup match in 1987 alongside cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who is now Pakistan’s top opposition leader.
Sharif reportedly laughed and said, “Kash vo din dubaara aate (I wish those days would come back), NDTV said.
Australia and New Zealand will host the 11th ICC Cricket World Cup starting Saturday and India and Pakistan will face each other in their opening game on Sunday in Adelaide.
The Prime Minister also tweeted, “Would be sending our new Foreign Secretary on a SAARC Yatra soon to further strengthen our ties.”
Jaishankar’s visit to Pakistan will be significant given that India had cancelled foreign secretary-level talks in August last year after the Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi held consultations with the Kashmiri separatists on the eve of the India-Pakistan talks.
Prime Minister’s remarks on Friday came a day after Basit met Jaishankar. The meeting was described as a courtesy call by the officials.
“It was a very cordial meeting where both of them discussed the status of India-Pakistan ties,” sources said.
Modi spoke to Sharif hours after US President Barack Obama had called the Pakistani PM.
Modi had tweeted individually to each member of Team India, including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and vice- captain Virat Kohli, and wished them on Thursday as the World Cup began.