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Pakistan: Why Nawaz and Shehbaz's congratulations to PM Modi were different in tone?

“Your party’s success in recent elections reflects the confidence of the people in your leadership. Let us replace hate with hope and seize the opportunity to shape the destiny of two billion people of South Asia,” tweeted PML(N) chief Nawaz Sharif as he congratulated PM Narendra Modi on his electoral victory last week. There was […]

“Your party’s success in recent elections reflects the confidence of the people in your leadership. Let us replace hate with hope and seize the opportunity to shape the destiny of two billion people of South Asia,” tweeted PML(N) chief Nawaz Sharif as he congratulated PM Narendra Modi on his electoral victory last week. There was a change in the tone of the message compared to what his younger brother and incumbent Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif had posted. The junior Sharif had written, “Felicitations to Narendra Modi on taking oath as Prime Minister.”

So what caused the difference?

The wide gap in the two Sharifs’ tone and tenor of greeting PM Modi directly indicates the difference between Pakistani official thinking and Nawaz’s desire for an improvement in the bilateral relationship. Unlike his brother, Shehbaz does not challenge the generals. Indeed, Shehbaz has learned from his brother’s experience and that of other Pakistani leaders—Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Imran Khan—that taking on the generals is dangerous.

Nawaz attended PM Modi’s oath ceremony in 2014

PM Modi had invited Nawaz to his oath-taking ceremony as PM back in 2014. Despite staunch opposition from the Pakistani army, Nawaz came to India, and both leaders vowed to improve bilateral ties. However, the Pakistani generals thwarted this endeavour initially through the Pathankot terrorist attack of January 2016 and, later that year, through the Uri terrorist attack.

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