Nawaz Sharif mulling attending Narendra Modi`s swearing-in ceremony

Pakistan will announce the decision whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will participate in the swearing-in ceremony of India`s Narendra Modi.

Last Updated: May 23, 2014, 15:37 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Pakistan will on Friday announce the decision whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will participate in the swearing-in ceremony of India`s Narendra Modi. The decision is likely to be announced between 5 pm - 7 pm.

According to sources, Sharif is pondering over attending the ceremony.

Modi, the Prime Minister-designate, had invited leaders of all SAARC countries for his swearing-in ceremony. His initiative has evoked a warm response with the Afghan, Maldivian and Sri Lankan Presidents and the Bhutanese and Nepalese Prime Ministers confirming their participation.

Bangladesh will be represented at the ceremony by its Parliament speaker.

Apart from leaders from SAARC countries, Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam will also attend the swearing-in.
The Pakistan Foreign Office had, meanwhile, said Prime Minister Sharif will decide on Friday whether or not to attend Modi`s oath-taking ceremony and noted that it expects a "meaningful dialogue" with India after Modi assumes charge.

According to Dawn, Sharif has been advised by the Foreign Office to attend the ceremony.

In the meantime, Nasim Zehra, a Pakistani journalist, tweeted that Sharif will attend Modi`s swearing-in ceremony.

Zehra works with Dunaya Television and is host of the show Policy Matters.

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 a news agency. 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 will be made by the evening 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.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin on Thursday said in a series of tweets that India had received confirmation about participation of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom at Modi`s swearing-in on May 26.

Akbaruddin said India had also received confirmation that Bhutan`s Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala will attend, while Bangladesh has informed that Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury will attend. He added Mauritius`s Ramgoolam had been invited to the swearing-in and had confirmed his participation.

Modi, who had surprised the world with his election victory, invited heads of government of all the SAARC countries for his oath-taking ceremony in a major diplomatic signal to the region as well as to the global community.

SAARC comprises, besides India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Modi will take oath as India`s 14th Prime Minister at the ceremony that is expected to be attended by over 3,000 invited guests and will be telecast live. The swearing-in ceremony would be held in the open forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace here.

(With Agency inputs)