PM, Sharif offer each other flood help

  • Prashant Jha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 08, 2014 13:34 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday offered assistance to Islamabad for relief and rescue operations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where at least 160 people have died and around 5,000 homes have been destroyed, following devastating floods in the region.

The offer was first made though a PMO statement and then a personal letter to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Islamabad reciprocated, expressing condolences and offering its own assistance, but did not respond to Modi's offer.

India's humanitarian gesture comes after a recent diplomatic chill in bilateral relations. Last month, New Delhi had cancelled foreign-secretary-level talks with Islamabad after objecting to the Pakistani high commissioner’s meetings with separatist Hurriyat leaders. Pakistan retorted this week, saying it won’t make the first move to revive dialogue and that the “ball was squarely in India’s court”. Sharif also sent Modi a box of mangoes, in an apparent sign of goodwill.

In his letter, Modi spoke of shared devastation in both countries and offered any assistance Pakistan may require in relief efforts. "Our resources are at your disposal wherever you need them," he said.

The PM called the devastation 'unprecedented' and said he had been told 'damage to life and property is equally, if not more, severe in areas across the Line of Control'.

“It is a matter of great distress that the retreating monsoon rains have played havoc in many parts of both our countries,” he said.
Late Sunday evening, Pakistan responded to Modi’s offer, “expressing deepest condolences over the loss of precious lives of our Kashmiri brethren on both sides of the LoC.”

"We also feel the pain of people of Indian occupied Kashmir and are ready to help in whatever way possible to mitigate the suffering of people." Notably, the statement was silent on India's offer.

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