Ending two days of speculation whether he will go to New Delhi or not, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif confirmed on May 24 that he will attend the oath-taking ceremony of Indian prime minister-designate Narendra Modi to be held on May 26 in New Delhi. The an event is to be attended by leaders of six other South Asian nations as well as Mauritius that has a large ethnic Indian population.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said that details of Sharif’s visit were being worked out with the Indian authorities, including the composition of the prime minister’s delegation, Dawn online reported.
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said that he had a series of meetings Thursday and Friday with Sharif in which the visit was discussed. Aziz, a former foreign minister, will accompany Sharif to India.
Earlier, the Foreign Office had urged Sharif to attend the ceremony, saying that the bitterness towards Pakistan shown during the election campaign in India would subside after the formation of a new government in New Delhi. Khurshid Ahmed Shah, leader of opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly, had also urged Sharif to accept the invitation in the larger interest of the people of the two countries.
Narendra Modi had invited the leaders of all the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for the swearing-in 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 Monday evening, will hold brief bilateral talks with each leader the following day. Watch video below.