Pakistan has played down a decision by the Indian government not to invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to tomorrow’s swearing-in ceremony of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying India’s “internal politics” did not permit him to extend an invitation.
“His [Modi’s] entire focus [during the election campaign] was on Pakistan-bashing. It was unwise to expect that he can get rid of this narrative [soon],” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news channel.
Earlier, a Reuters report had said New Delhi would not invite PM Khan to Modi’s oath-taking ceremony.
An Indian government statement said the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan — all members of the little-known Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation — had been invited to Modi’s swearing-in.
All nations from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Maldives, were invited to the swearing-in ceremony for Modi’s first term in 2014.
Speaking at a Geo News programme on Monday evening, Qureshi said the Indian PM had congratulated Imran Khan after he won the general election last year and wrote a letter as well.
He said relations between countries were based on reciprocity and PM Khan had congratulated Modi as a goodwill gesture. He said a meeting for the sake of dialogue to find a solution to the Kashmir issue, as well as Siachen and Sir Creek disputes, would have been a significant measure instead of attending the swearing-in ceremony.
“Finding a new way [to resume dialogue] is also essential for them [India],” Qureshi said. “If he [Modi] wants development of this region...the only way is to sit with Pakistan to find a solution,” he added.