Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and announced the release of detained Pakistani fishermen as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the holy month of Ramzan.
The conversation, which lasted about five minutes, came against the backdrop of a war of words between the two countries.
Modi recently accused Pakistan of backing terrorism against India while Pakistan’s leadership had reacted angrily to remarks by Indian leaders that a cross-border raid against militants was a “message” to Islamabad.
Besides Sharif, Modi spoke to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and conveyed good wishes for the month of Ramzan, which begins on Wednesday. He expressed hope for peace, tranquillity and harmony in their countries and in the region during “this month of piety and prayers”.
In a tweet, Modi said: “Also conveyed to PM Sharif our decision to release detained Pakistani fishermen on this pious occasion.” He said in another tweet that the fishermen were being released so that they will be with their families to “observe this blessed month”.
Modi reiterated to Sharif “his message of peaceful, friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries”, said a statement from the external affairs ministry.
In turn, Sharif said India and Pakistan must put aside differences and work for peace.
"Pakistan and India should put wars and differences behind and should go for peace so that people of the two countries should remember their leaders in good words," he said.
"Being neighbours, Pakistan and India should live in peace and not allow the bilateral differences to become a hurdle for it," Sharif said, according to a statement in Urdu released by his office.
Leaders of nations are like heads of families who “help their family members to stay clear of disputes for the sake of a peaceful life”, he added. “They protect the families from troubles and for them the welfare of the family members is always supreme."
The conversation marked a thaw after the recent war of words. Pakistan’s Senate or upper house of parliament passed a resolution condemning Modi’s remarks during his recent visit to Bangladesh that Pakistan was backing terrorism and creating a “nuisance”.
There were verbal exchanges between the two sides after Indian minister Rajyavardhan Rathore said the cross-border raid against militants in Myanmar was a message to Pakistan.
Pakistan denied visas to Indian yoga instructors who were to join a function to mark International Yoga Day on June 21. India later refused a visa to a Pakistani diplomat to be posted in New Delhi, saying he had links with Pakistan’s ISI spy agency and terrorists. The diplomat was later posted to another country.
Modi thanked Prime Minister Hasina for his successful visit to Bangladesh and the hospitality, friendship and goodwill he received from the people and government of Bangladesh. He said the visit had set the stage for a new era in bilateral cooperation and regional partnership.
He assured President Ghani of India’s steadfast commitment to support Afghanistan in its efforts to build a peaceful, stable, secure and prosperous nation.