PM Manmohan Singh congratulates Nawaz Sharif, invites him to India

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today lost no time in congratulating Nawaz Sharif on his election victory, which will give him his third term as Prime Minister of Pakistan, and invited him to visit India at a mutually convenient time.

In an unusually quick response even as counting of votes was underway in Pakistan, Singh conveyed India's desire to work with him to chart a new course in Indo-Pak relations.

"The Prime Minister has extended his congratulations to Sharif and his party for their emphatic victory in Pakistan's elections," the PMO said in a statement here.

Singh invited Sharif to visit India at a "mutually convenient time".

During the course of his campaign, Sharif had expressed his keenness to visit India at the earliest. He had also vowed to restart the Indo-Pak peace process where he had left in 1999 when he was ousted from power by then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup.

Singh also congratulated the people and the political parties of Pakistan for braving the threats of violence and voting in large numbers.

The PML-N returned to power after millions of Pakistanis braved Taliban threats and violence that claimed some 50 lives to vote in the landmark general election that marked the first transition from one civilian government to another in the country's 66-year history.

The Prime Minister "expressed India's desire to work with the new government of Pakistan in charting a new course for the relationship between the two countries," the statement said.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid hoped that India will continue to have good relations with Pakistan under Sharif's leadership.

Sharif served as premier during 1990-1993 and 1997-1999 but was ousted from office before he could complete his term - once on corruption charges and later because of the coup led by Musharraf.

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