Pakistan Yet to Reply to Modi’s Swearing-in Invite
NEW DELHI: Pakistan didn’t convey any decision on accepting the invite to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend Narendra Modi’s swearing-in by late on the day, despite promising to do so by Thursday -- a reflection of the strong contradictory pressures within the country’s institutions.
India sent out invitations to all Saarc leaders on Wednesday to attend the May 26 swearing-in at Rashtrapati Bhavan. By Thursday afternoon, the official RSVPs poured in from all the invited countries except one.
The Pakistan Foreign Office assured that an answer would reach New Delhi by the end of the day. “Whether the Prime Minister would attend or not will be decided some time today,” said Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam early in the afternoon in Islamabad. However, no decision could be taken even after numerous meetings were held in the Pakistan capital -- an indication of the difficulty in reaching the decision, especially when the Sharif governmen t is embroiled in a proxy fight with the Army. The PMLN government is shooting from the shoulder of a media group that is being shut down by reactionary organisations who have been sponsored by the military over the years. However, sources indicate the decision will be conveyed on Friday.
Sharif had publicly said he wanted to have better ties, especially in trade, with India but one by one, all his overtures have been delayed and scrapped mainly due to resistance from the Army.
Irrespective of whether he accepts the invite or nominates another person, Sharif will face criticism. It remains to be seen if he wants to spend precious political capital to reciprocate Modi’s move.
The United States has already put its stamp of approval on Modi’s overture. “We believe increased engagement between India and Pakistan is a positive step, so we’ll see what happens,” said US State Department official Jen Psaki in reply to a query. After Sharif was elected last year, he had been asked a loaded question on whether he would invite the Indian Prime Minister to his swearing-in, to which answered positively. However, there had been no official invite from Islamabad, after back-channel discussions showed that it would not have been the right atmosphere domestically for Manmohan Singh to make the journey.
Meanwhile, the Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Sandhu said the militancy infrastructure in Pakistan continued to be intact and flourishing.
“Even though there has been an orderly transition in mid-2013 from one democratically elected government to another, conflict entrepreneurs in Pakistan continue to strive hard to sustain and entrench an atmosphere of animosity against the Indian state,” Sandhu said at an event organised by the Border Security Force here. “As we head into summers, launching pads are likely to be reactivated and determined attempts will be made for infiltration,” he added.
Sandhu’s strong words will certainly have an audience here, with Congress sharpening its knives to target Modi on the invite to Sharif.