ISLAMABAD - Amid a diplomatic showdown with the United States, Pakistan finds a touch of warmth from India and hopes the ‘cordiality’ will grow in the coming weeks when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns home after a successful heart surgery.

Islamabad has been at odds with Washington over a defence deal as the US suspects Pakistan’s role in the war on terrorism. The US also threatens to trim the financial aid in the coming months.

There has been tension with Iran after the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death – as Pakistan claimed he was travelling into the country from Iran – and Afghanistan is also quite vocal in its mistrust over Pakistan’s sincerity to fight terror.

A bouquet from Indian PM Narendra Modi at this time and his concern for PM Sharif’s health indicated he wanted better ties – a much desired gesture for Islamabad.

Prime Minister Sharif had a successful open-heart surgery in London recently and is expected to return by the end of June.

Never shying away from displaying his warmth towards Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Modi had sent flowers and wished for speedy recovery to Sharif. The two leaders were also in contact even before the operation.

Yesterday, Pakistan released at least 18 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture. The fishermen would arrive in Lahore today from Karachi’s Landhi jail and would be taken to Wagah border by a special bus.

Officials said Pakistan expected India to reciprocate the gesture and release the Pakistani fishermen lodged in Indian jails. Pakistan has so far released 199 Indian fishermen this year.

A senior foreign ministry official told The Nation, the signals from India had been good and Pakistan was hopeful of ‘positive talks’ between the two sides in near future.

“The PMs from the two countries are warm to each other and there is a hope this will benefit the peace process. PM Sharif is expected to contact PM Modi when he returns home,” he added.

Another official said Modi will once again be requested to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit later this year in Islamabad. Pakistan has already invited the Indian Prime Minister to attend the Pakistan-hosted 19th Saarc summit.

Separately, Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif said Pakistan enjoyed cordial relations with all its neighbouring and regional countries. He said Pakistan was successfully fighting the war against terrorism and had already eliminated the terrorists’ network in the country.

Analyst Dr Pervez Iqbal Cheema said Pakistan was carrying out serious a action against banned terror group on the basis of the information shared by India after the Pathankot attack as part of its commitment against terror.

“It clearly indicates Pakistan’s seriousness in taking actions against militant groups. The country’s top civil and military leadership re-affirmed Pakistan’s strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterates support to India on Pathankot incident,” he added.

Cheema said the peace lovers were hopeful such incidents will not sabotage the Indo-Pak comprehensive dialogue. “Peace and prosperity in the region is related to Indo-Pak comprehensive dialogue,” he remarked.

International relations expert Dr Huma Baqai said that Pakistan had always conveyed a strong message to international community that it supported peace and prosperity in the region.

“The countries including India, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and others should support each other to eliminate the menace of terrorism as terrorism is becoming a global issue,” she added.

This month, Pakistan’s stance was vindicated as chief Indian investigator Sharad Kumar gave it a clean chit in the Pathankot airbase attack case.

Kumar, the Director of National Investigative Agency, confirmed no evidence was found about Pakistan’s involvement in Pathankot attack. He said they had completed investigation in India and they were waiting for permission from Pakistan to visit.

Seven Indian soldiers were killed in the Pathankot attack in January and India had accused Pakistan of helping the terrorists. Pakistan had assured that help would be granted in investigation. Pakistan’s team had also visited India to help in investigation in March.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan supported the dialogue process to resolve the bilateral issues with India. “We are always ready for talks,” he added.