- Pakistan Day is celebrated to mark the Lahore Resolution on March 23
- Imran Khan tweeted that he received a message from PM Modi
- India did not send any officials as J&K separatists were also invited
Weeks after the worst escalation between New Delhi and Islamabad since the 1999 Kargil War, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan greetings on the eve of Pakistan's National Day, sources said. Mr Khan, in a tweet, said PM Modi told him that it is time for people of the subcontinent to work together "for a peaceful and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence".
Mr Khan said he welcomes PM Modi's message and that he believes it is time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address and resolve all issues. He said the two countries "need to forge a new relationship based on peace and prosperity for all our people."
Pakistan Day is celebrated to mark the Lahore Resolution on March 23 each year.
Received msg from PM Modi: "I extend my greetings & best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan. It is time that ppl of Sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive & prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence"- Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 22, 2019
While Islamabad will celebrate the day today, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi organised events yesterday. India, however, did not send any representatives to the event as separatists from Jammu and Kashmir were also invited.
"The decision was taken after Pakistan High Commission decided to call Hurriyat leader to the reception. In February we were very clear, any attempt by Pakistan High Commission or Pakistani leadership to engage with Hurriyat leaders will not be taken lightly," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Indian officials reportedly stood outside the Pakistan High Commission and were seen discouraging Indian guests from attending the event.
None of the separatists from Kashmir, however, attended the event this year as most of them either are in jail or under house arrest after a major crackdown by the government last month. The ones who are not jailed fear their arrest or another crackdown.
Kashmiri human rights activist Mohammed Ahsan Untoo was briefly detained when he was going for the reception.
In the past too, New Delhi has insisted that Pakistan hold talks with India directly on differences over Kashmir and other issues, and has discouraged Islamabad from having direct contact with the Hurriyat leaders.
In the earlier years, India sent a minister to the Pakistan High Commission for the reception every year even though separatists were invited.
Tensions between the two countries have been heightened after the terror attack last month in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama which 40 Central Reserve Police Force or CRPF soldiers were killed. The attack had been claimed by Pak-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed which is led by Masood Azhar.
India then carried out "non-military, pre-emptive" air strikes on a Jaish terror training camp in Pakistan's Balakot. A day later, when Pakistan targeted Indian military establishments, the two countries engaged in aerial combat for the first time in nearly 50 years. Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan after his MiG-21 fighter was shot down; he returned to India after two days in Pakistani captivity.
India has since then mounted diplomatic pressure to isolate Pakistan.
With inputs from agencies
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