14 February 2015
Cricket diplomacy is back again. The game that has often helped thaw relations between India and Pakistan has once again come to ease tension between the two that went cold after a warm start last year. On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used cricket World Cup as an opportunity to connect with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Modi called up Sharif to convey his best wishes for the Pakistani cricket team participating in the World Cup. India and Pakistan play their inaugural match against each other on February 15. The PM also announced that new Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will visit Islamabad and other SAARC countries as part of his SAARC Yatra to push bilateral agenda.
“Spoke to President Ashraf Ghani, PM Sheikh Hasina, PM Nawaz Sharif and President Sirisena. Conveyed my best wishes for the Cricket World Cup,” Modi tweeted. Noting that five SAARC nations are playing and are excited about the World Cup, the Prime Minister said, “I am sure the WC will celebrate sportsman spirit and will be a treat for sports lovers. Cricket connects people in our region and promotes goodwill. Hope players from SAARC region play with passion and bring laurels to the region… would be sending our new Foreign Secretary on a SAARC Yatra soon to further strengthen our ties.”
As they talked, Modi and Sharif also laughed together when Modi joked about Sharif playing a warm-up World Cup match in 1987 alongside Imran Khan, sources said. To this, it is learnt, Sharif replied, “Kash vo din dubaara aata (I wish those days would come back).” Jokes apart, the two leaders used the opportunity to strike some diplomatic conversation and Modi informed Sharif about Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s upcoming tour to SAARC countries to push issues of bilateral interest.