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India polls: Pakistan hopeful of thaw in ties after Modi victory

Published on May 19, 2014 11:15 AM
Mr Narendra Modi (in blue) waves as he arrives at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on May 17, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - The election of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi has sent shivers through many among India's 150-million strong Muslim community, but neighbouring Pakistan is cautiously hopeful for a thaw in long-fraught ties.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is himself a centre-right leader, has hailed Modi's "impressive victory" which saw the hardliner gain an outright majority in India's parliament for the first time in 30 years.

Sharif has cited his working relationship with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's last prime minister with the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a reason for optimism, according to diplomatic sources.

It was during Sharif's second term in 1999 that Vajpayee rode a bus to Lahore to sign a peace accord, raising the prospect for normalisation between the two-nuclear armed neighbours that have fought three wars.

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