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Imran hails Modi on poll victory

In April, Khan had said that there will be a better chance of peace talks with India on the Kashmir issue if Modi wins

By Nasir Jaffry in Islamabad
  • Published 24.05.19, 12:04 AM
  • Updated 24.05.19, 12:04 AM
  • 2 mins read
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Source: @ImranKhanPTI

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday congratulated his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on his electoral victory as Pakistan successfully tests the nuclear capable surface-to-surface Shaheen-II ballistic missile. It can accurately hit its targets up to 1,500km.

The test comes as many Pakistani politicians, including former information minister and senior PPP leader Sherry Rehman, believed that Modi’s win “is a victory of the extremists ideology in India”.

“I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” he tweeted.

A senior Pakistani official told The Telegraph that Islamabad hopes to resume dialogue with India after the new government takes over in New Delhi, adding: “We believe we will be dealing with a new Modi like the one we saw a few years ago as compared to the one we saw during the last one year.”

He said: “We look forward to work with the Modi government to settle outstanding problems including Jammu and Kashmir.”

Modi had sprung a surprise a few years ago, flying in to Lahore on an unannounced visit and meeting then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, relations nose-dived during the last one year of Modi’s government with increased ceasefire violations in Kashmir from both the sides.

The situation took an ugly turn after India claimed carrying out a surgical strike over Balakot and Pakistan shot down an Indian MiG-21 and capturing pilot of the jet, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

The Pakistani military, in a statement, on Thursday confirmed that “it conducted successful training launch of the surface-to-surface ballistic missile Shaheen-II,aimed at ensuring operational readiness of Army Strategic Forces Command.”

It said: “Shaheen-II Missile is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads upto a range of 1,500 km. Shaheen-II is a highly capable missile which fully meets Pakistan’s strategic needs towards maintenance of desired deterrence stability in the region.” The training launch, having its impact point in the Arabian Sea, was witnessed by senior officers from the Army Strategic Forces Command, scientists and engineers of the strategic organisations.

Pakistan formally launched its medium-range missile programme in April 1998, with the first successful test flight of the Ghauri missile followed by similar tests involving the nuclear capable Ghauri, Ghaznavi, Abdali and Shaheen I and II missile systems.

In April, Khan had said that he believed there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settle the Kashmir issue if Modi’s party wins the general elections.