Islamabad, 24 May-2014, PTI: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will travel to India on Monday to attend the swearing- in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi, ending the suspense over his visit amid reports that there was stiff opposition from hardliners in the establishment in Pakistan.
An official of the Prime Minister Office said that Sharif accepted the invitation and will visit India on Monday to attend Modi’s oath-taking ceremony.
He did not give the details about the visit and Sharif’s agenda but an official of the Foreign Office said that a separate meeting between the two prime ministers might take place where Pakistan will bring all issues on the table.
Sharif took time before making a decision as he wanted to create consensus before travelling to Delhi.
He spent two solid days talking to political parties, leaders and officials of the military.
A senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said that Sharif wanted to make the trip meaningful and not just a PR exercise.
He rejected the impression that Pakistan took time, saying that consultations were essential as Modi had made hard hitting speeches against Pakistan during his election campaign.
Radio Pakistan reported that the occasion will provide an opportunity to devise a strategy for moving forward towards bringing peace to the region and normalise ties with India for which Pakistan has always expressed determination and resolve.
The delay in Sharif confirming his attendance in the oath ceremony was attributed to opposition from hardliners in the army establishment.
Modi has invited all the leaders of member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the ceremony.
Prime Minister Sharif had telephoned Modi to congratulate him on his party’s election victory and invited him to visit Pakistan after assuming office.
Other key SAARC leaders, Sri Lankan President President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom have confirmed that they will attend the ceremony.
Earlier, Sharif’s daughter Maryam tweeted that cordial relations with the new Indian government should be cultivated.
“I personally think cordial relations with new Indian govt should be cultivated. Will help remove psychological barriers, fear and misgivings,” she tweeted.
She followed it up with another tweet, “It’s upon the leaders to lead their countries and ppl to peace and conciliation.”
The decision to travel India drew immediate backlash, with outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who is mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, asking Sharif to review his decision as it was not in the interest of Pakistan.