Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi/Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday confirmed that he would attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi, which is to be held in New Delhi on Monday.
The formal announcement came hours after the Pakistan PMO told Zee Media during a call and on e-mail that Sharif would be attending the event and he will reach New Delhi on Monday morning.
Sharif will not just attend the event on Monday but also hold bilateral talks with Modi on Tuesday. The ceremony will also be attended by leaders of six other South Asian nations as well as Mauritius, that has a large ethnic Indian population.
The Pakistani PM will reach New Delhi on Monday morning. He will be accompanied by his Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry among others.
The official announcement by the Pakistan Prime Minister`s Office today ended the suspense over Sharif`s visit that was being opposed by the hardliners in the establishment here.
India has also confirmed Sharif`s attendance on Twitter.
— Syed Akbaruddin (@MEAIndia) May 24, 2014
The development came after Prime Minister`s brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif met the Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif last night for about half-an-hour and conveyed to him the importance of the visit to India for maintaining good relations between the two countries and peace in the region, PML-N party sources told a news agency.
"According to the programme received from India, the Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi on the morning of May 27. The Prime Minister would also call on the President of India. The Prime Minister would return to Pakistan in the afternoon of May 27, 2014," a Foreign Office statement said here.
The delay in Sharif confirming his attendance at the swearing-in ceremony was attributed to opposition from hardliners in the Army establishment here.
Sharif had telephoned Modi to congratulate him on his party`s election victory and invited him to visit Pakistan after assuming office.
Modi has invited all the leaders of member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the ceremony.
Apart from Sharif, the dignitaries who will attend include Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, and Bangladesh Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury. Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam is also attending the ceremony.
It is the first time in India`s history that leaders from neighbouring countries have been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of an Indian prime minister.
Modi, who will be sworn in at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday evening, will hold brief bilateral talks with each leader the following day.
(With Agency inputs)