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May 27, 2019

Will Delhi call?

Top Story

May 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: While speculation is rife both in India and Pakistan over whether Prime Minister Modi would invite PM Imran Khan to his May 30 swearing-in for a second term following his party’s resounding election victory, diplomatic sources say the occasion provides a valuable opportunity for the South Asian rivals to turn a new leaf in long-strained ties.

Khan phone Modi after the announcement of the election results. "I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia," he tweeted.

The Indian leader responded with the same spirit saying, “I warmly express my gratitude for your good wishes. I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region.”

Competent sources in New Delhi, approached by phone from Islamabad, said a decision on whom to invite to the mega event are being taken. “The whole matter is under process,” said an Indian official familiar with the ongoing discussions.

As regards to possible invite for “Pakistan PM to this mega oath-taking, work is still in progress,” and will now about it in next 24 hours.

In 2014, Modi had invited SAARC leaders including then Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif and he had attended the ceremony.

A leading Indian newspaper said in a report that while no formal invite has been sent yet, the government is considering a proposal to invite leaders from the neighbourhood and perhaps from beyond for the swearing in.

“To underscore the significance of India’s Neighbourhood Frist Policy, Modi is also likely to make a neihbouring country his first port of call after taking over for the second term,” it said.

There were also some other conflicting reports in Indian media with one media outlet claiming that PM Khan has been invited to the ceremony. However, some reports said he might not be invited for Modi’s oath-taking.

Some reports in the Indian media suggested that US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to be invited for the occasion. The leaders of UK, Japan, Germany, Sri Lanka, France, Israel and Saudi Arabia will also be invited for the oath-taking. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also be invited.

Endemic tensions between the two nuclear-armed states sharply rose in months ahead of Indian elections as Modi campaigned on a platform that including aggressive posture and rhetoric against Pakistan and at times it looked as if the two were on the brink of a war.

Amid prevalent atmosphere of hopes as well as doubts, many in Pakistan see little chance for any early breakthrough while unrest and Indian occupation forces repression on Muslim majority in Indian Occupied Kashmir continued unabated.

“It’s 50-50 at this moment,” a senior official said.

Pakistan has consistently underlined the need for a return to the negotiating table and taken tangible steps towards this including gesture of voluntary release of a captured Indian pilot whose warplane was shot down during intrusion into Pakistan.

“The ball is in the Indian court and we await positive rethink on the part of Indian rulers,” observed the Pakistani official.

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