New Delhi, April 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hit out at Pakistan over the brutalities in Bangladesh leading up to the 1971 war, and on terrorism, but his government held out its relationship with Dhaka as an example of how it would like to engage with Islamabad.
The mixed messages allowed Modi to use the platform presented by the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to iterate his frequent criticism of Pakistan while also leaving open a window for a fresh thrust at talks in the coming months.
Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are expected to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, in June, where the grouping will formally induct the South Asian neighbours. They will be under pressure from the grouping to put aside their differences at least at the SCO.
Today, the Indian Prime Minister made the comments at a ceremony at the capital's Manekshaw Centre - named after Sam Manekshaw, who was army chief during the 1971 war - where Hasina honoured Indian soldiers who died assisting Bangladesh's war of liberation.
Modi referred to the fast economic growth and improving human development indicators of Bangladesh under Hasina as an important example for the region, before citing his own government's motto of " sabka saath sabka vikas (everyone together, and everyone's development)".
His government's vision involved sharing India's growth benefits with its neighbours.
"But it is sad that there is a third ideology opposed to that of our two countries also in South Asia," Modi said. "An ideology that is the inspiration and source of terrorism; that is based not on humanism but on violence and terrorism; that counts as its main objective the spread of terrorism by terrorists."
This ideology, Modi added, placed "terrorism above humanism" and "treachery over trust".
Although the target of his comments was clear, the Prime Minister did not name Pakistan, even while referring to the "cruelty" the people of Bangladesh suffered in the period leading up to the 1971 war and the country's eventual independence.
"Today is a day also to remember the cruelty that robbed lakhs of people of their lives before the war," Modi said.
But his foreign secretary S. Jaishankar used the stark differences between India's relations with Bangladesh and Pakistan to send a message to Islamabad.
"Yes, today the lessons of cooperation, connectivity and trade, of cooperation against terrorism - those lessons are out there," Jaishankar said, when asked about whether the success of India-Bangladesh ties held lessons for Pakistan. "It is up to others to take those lessons."