Sharif in dilemma over attending Modi's swearing-in ceremony

Sharif in dilemma over attending Modi's swearing-in ceremony

Sharif in dilemma over attending Modi's swearing-in ceremony

Islamabad on Thursday remained non-committal about Pakistani Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif’s visit to New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. 

Though Modi got the government to invite Sharif and the leaders of all the other six member-countries of the SAARC for his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on Monday, the Prime Minister of Pakistan apparently faces a dilemma about biting the bait offered by his new counterpart.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Pakistan Government, Tasnim Aslam, told journalists in Islamabad early on Thursday that the formal invitation from New Delhi for Sharif to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Modi had been received from New Delhi. 

She also said that a decision on Pakistani Prime Minister’s visit to New Delhi for the ceremony would be taken later in the day. But Press Trust of India, on Thursday evening, quoted sources in the MOFA of the Pakistani Government in Islamabad as saying that the decision on Sharif’s response would be taken on Friday. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay have already responded to New Delhi’s invitation and confirmed their participation in the swearing-in ceremony of Modi. 

Dhaka has also conveyed to New Delhi that Bangladesh would be represented by Speaker of the country’s Parliament, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is on a pre-scheduled tour to Japan from May 24 to 28. 

Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam has also confirmed his visit to New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony. 

PTI quoted Aslam as indicating that it was a normal practice to nominate or depute someone on behalf of the Prime Minister to attend such events in foreign countries after receiving the invitation. She was also quoted as saying that Pakistan hopes the new Indian Government would realize the importance of resolving bilateral issues.

Pakistan was also looking forward to an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” dialogue between the two countries for peace and development in South Asia, she said.

Sources told Deccan Herald that even if Sharif finally decides not to come to New Delhi to attend the event, he would most likely send a representative to attend the event. Sharif may either request Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain to travel to New Delhi or depute a minister of his cabinet as his representative. 

According to the senior Indian Government officials who keep a watch on Islamabad, if the Pakistani Prime Minister decides to cold-shoulder the gesture by Modi, he might also ask Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi, Abdul Basit, to represent him.