Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
Islamabad: Even after Pakistan`s ruling party PML-N hinted on Thursday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be attending Narendra Modi`s swearing in ceremony on May 26, the Pakistan government remained non-committal on the issue. However, Pakistan foreign ministry sources said that the decision on Sharif attending oath-taking ceremony of Modi is likely to be taken on Friday morning.
Addressing a press briefing here, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said, “I wish to confirm that we have received invitation from the new Indian government for Pakistan Premier to attend Narendra Modi`s swearing-in ceremony on May 26. However, a decision in this regard will be taken sometimes today.”
“PM Sharif will decide today on whether or not to attend Modi`s oath taking ceremony,” the Pakistan MEA spokesperson further clarified.
Aslam continued to say, “Its a normal practice that if PM has preoccupation, he can nominate somebody. Its not a violation of protocol.”
The MEA spokesperson, however, reiterated that the government of Pakistan wants stronger ties with India.
“We expect when new Indian government takes over, realizing peace in region, a meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan will resume,” Aslam stated.
Importantly, the government of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have already confirmed the presence of their Presidents Hamid Karzai and Mahinda Rajapaksa during Narendra Modi`s swearing in as Prime Minister on May 26.
Although an official confirmation in this regard is yet to be made, Pakistan`s ruling party PML-N today said that Premier Nawaz Sharif is most likely to attend the swearing-in ceremony.
Speaking to a TV news channel, PML-N spokesperson Siddiqul Farooq said, “The Pakistan Prime Minister will in all probability attend the event and reciprocate to the goodwill gesture extended by the new government of India.”
“Nawaz Sharif will meet the Indian PM and assure him of his government`s fullest cooperation to strengthen the bilateral ties,” the PML-N leader said.
The response from Pakistan`s ruling PML-N came in the wake of reports that Sharif may not attend the even and instead send an emissary.
State-run Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan yesterday 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 yesterday.
A top source at the Pakistan Foreign Office told Dawn daily that no decision had yet been taken as to who would represent Pakistan at the ceremony. 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.
The invitation for the swearing-in ceremony has come as a pleasant surprise to some Pakistani analysts who had expressed apprehension over the ties with India under Modi.
Beside Pakistan`s Prime Minister, the leaders of the SAARC member countries have also been invited to attend the oath taking ceremony.
Others who have confirmed their presence during the event are - Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajpaksa, Bangladesh Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen and Mauritius PM Navinchandra Ramgoolam.