All eyes are set on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is still considering to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and a final decision will be taken tomorrow, say Pakistan foreign ministry sources.
Sources within Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that Prime Minister wanted to normalise ties with India to promote commercial and business activities.
“He is keen to improve ties which is also the official policy of the party but he needs to take various aspects of the relations into consideration,” a top PMLN leader said.
He said the invitation has come at a short notice and the premier needs time to accept it.
On Wednesday, Modi had invited leaders from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, including Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, to attend his swearing-in ceremony, signalling his priority to engage with neighbours.
Within hours of the invitations being sent out, New Delhi was informed that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will attend the ceremony, sources said. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be on an official visit to Japan on May 26, the sources said. Therefore, she will be represented by Bangladesh Parliament’s Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary.
However, Sharif’s participation has not been confirmed yet. If that happens, Sharif will be the first Pakistan Prime Minister to attend an Indian Prime Minister’s oath-taking ceremony.
While there was no official word on the invitation extended by the Indian government to Sharif, state-run Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan quoted a Foreign Office spokesperson as confirming that the invite had been received.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been invited to attend oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India,” Radio Pakistan said.
Sources were quoted as saying by the daily that Sharif would consult his close aides before taking a decision on the invitation.
After Modi-led BJP won a resounding mandate in the general election, Sharif had telephoned the Prime Minister-elect and invited him to visit Pakistan.
(With PTI inputs)