Pakistan hopeful of thaw in ties after Modi victory

ISLAMABAD- The election of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi has sent shivers through many among India’s 150-million strong Muslim community, but neighboring Pakistan is cautiously hopeful for a thaw in long-fraught ties.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is himself a centre-right leader, has hailed Modi’s “impressive victory” which saw the hardliner gain an outright majority in India’s parliament for the first time in 30 years.

Sharif has cited his working relationship with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India’s last prime minister with the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a reason for optimism, according to diplomatic sources.

It was during Sharif’s second term in 1999 that Vajpayee rode a bus to Lahore to sign a peace accord, raising the prospect for normalization between the two-nuclear armed neighbors that have fought three wars.

Three months later, the countries embarked on the Kargil conflict in the Himalayan region of Kashmir — though Sharif has blamed his then-army chief General Pervez Musharraf who went on to overthrow him in a coup, for provoking the fighting without his knowledge.