ISLAMABAD—In the latest gesture of rapprochement between two sworn enemies, Pakistan’s Prime Minister penned a letter to his Indian counterpart expressing “earnest hope” for a “brighter future” between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
The letter followed their meeting in New Delhi last month when Nawaz Sharif attended the swearing-in ceremony of India’s new leader, Narendra Modi. The dispatch contributed to a mood of cautious optimism that a budding relationship between the two leaders could thaw relations between two countries that have fought three wars since they became independent nations in 1947.
“I look forward to working with you in harmony to resolve all unsettled matters for the benefit of both nations,” Mr. Sharif wrote in the letter, released on Wednesday by his office. “It is my earnest hope that our endeavors will lay the foundation for a much brighter future.”
Mr. Sharif accepted an invitation to attend Mr. Modi’s swearing-in ceremony last month after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide election victory despite apprehensions in Pakistan, where Mr. Modi is widely reviled for failing to prevent the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in the 2002 religious riots in Gujarat. Opponents have accused Mr. Modi of not doing enough to prevent the religious clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the state, which he governed for more than a decade. Mr. Modi denies any wrongdoing and an Indian court ruled last year that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him.
The prime ministers formally met in New Delhi on May 27, Mr. Modi’s first full day in office.
Before departing for Pakistan, Mr. Sharif struck an optimistic note, hoping to revive a peace process he said had come to a halt in 1999, when a military coup ended his last government. Earlier that year, Mr. Sharif had signed the Lahore Declaration with then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, also from the BJP, a pact seen by many as a significant step forward in India-Pakistan relations.
Relations fell to their lowest point in a decade when militants from Pakistan killed over 160 people during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. India has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan end the delays in the trial in Pakistan of members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group accused of masterminding the attacks.
Indian officials said after the bilateral meeting last month that Mr. Modi had made clear to Mr. Sharif the need for Pakistan to stop its soil from being used for terrorist attacks. The strong tone on terrorism was in contrast to Mr. Sharif’s conciliatory statement after the meeting, embarrassing the Pakistani Prime Minister at home.