Decision on Nawaz Sharif attending Modi’s swearing-in likely to be taken tomorrow

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New Delhi: In its first response, Pakistan hailed Narendra Modi’s invitation to SAARC leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the swearing-in ceremony of India’s next prime minsiter as a ‘bold move’.

PM Sharif is still considering to attend the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and a final decision is likely to be taken tomorrow morning, said Pakistan foreign ministry sources.

Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam had earlier in the day said that Pakistan hopes the new Indian government will realize the importance of resolving bilateral issues.

Pakistan also hopes uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue between the two countries for peace and development in South Asia, she told reporters here.

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 told PTI.

He said the invitation has come at a short notice and the premier needs time to accept it. He also said that any decision about going to India would be made after consultations with the civil and military leaders.

Diplomatic sources said that unexpected move by India’s Prime Minister-designate has left Sharif with difficult choices.

“If he skipped the invitation it will send a very negative message to India and the world but the acceptance may bring backlash from the hardliners and hawks who consider Modi as anti-Pakistani,” said a diplomat.

It is learnt informally, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bhutan PM Tshering Tobgay have indicated their willingness to attend the ceremony.

It is learnt that Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina Wajed may not be able to make it as she will be on an official visit to Japan at that time. However, Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury to represent Bangladesh at Narendra Modi’s swearing in ceremony on May 26.

Explaining the move of inviting Saarc leaders, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that a peaceful change in the world’s largest democracy was an “occasion to showcase to the whole world the strength of democracy”.

The Congress said it was the incoming government’s prerogative to invite Saarc leaders, including Mr Sharif, to the oath-taking ceremony.

Read: Congress criticises BJP for inviting Pakistan Prime Minister to Modi’s swearing-in

Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti welcomed the move, with Ms Mufti saying it was a “good omen” and that “it’s a pleasant surprise and quite unbelievable”.

The separatist groups too said it was a “good sign”.

Excellent move by @narendramodi to invite SAARC leaders, especially Pak PM for his swearing in. Hope this is beginning of sustained talks.

— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar)
May 21, 2014
BJP used to say terror and talks can’t go hand in hand.I would like to ask now whether terror and invitation go hand in hand?-Manish Tewari

— ANI (@ANI_news)
May 22, 2014

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