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Modi's swearing-in: For foreign media, it was all about Nawaz Sharif

The swearing-in of Narendra Modi as India's prime minister has received wide media coverage across the world and also has been praised for his decision to invite leaders of the South Asian nations. But what has caught the media's attention is the invite and presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the ceremony.

"Narendra Modi sworn in as Indian prime minister, heralding change," said the headline of TheLos Angeles Times.Taking note of the presence of the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the report said: "The ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi was notable for the presence of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who reportedly ignored warnings from his own intelligence agency to attend." Relations have been tense between the two nuclear-armed rivals, it added.

The Chicago Tribune said for the first time India invited the heads of state of the entire eight-nation Saarc to the ceremony, and all sent representatives. "However, it was the presence of Sharif, who was said to have made the trip despite the opposition of his country's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, that turned heads," it said.

Sharif's presence was also noticed by The Washington Post: "Sharif's attendance was seen as a gesture of goodwill between the rival nations. It was the largest such gathering in the space." It said analysts feel that Sharif's presence signalled an easing of tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours. Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.

Choosing to highlight Modi's tweet which said Sharif had become 'emotional' on watching photographs of Modi and his mother, Pakistan'sThe Dawnnewspaper said:"While tweeting about his interaction with the Pakistani premier, Modi said that Nawaz Sharif had watched the visuals of meeting his mother Hiraben on television in which she had offered him sweets."

Singapore's The Straits Times emphasized on Modi's hardline image and Indo-Pak ties. "Mr Modi has an image as a hardliner, even within his own Hindu nationalist party, and is regarded with deep suspicion by many in Pakistan after deadly anti-Muslim riots erupted in his western fiefdom a decade ago."

Australia's The Australian spoke of the contentious issues on both sides of the Indian border. It said that "Mr Sharif's visit has been interpreted on both sides of the fractious border as a historic opportunity to reset a bilateral relationship that has been dogged by ongoing border disputes and terrorist incursions."

The UK's The Guardian also touched upon the Indo-Pak relations. It quoted Nawaz Sharif as having said that both the governments in the respective countries had a strong mandate. The Guardian said: The invite had posed a dilemma for Sharif, who leads the conservative pro-business Pakistan Muslim League, as many in the country and elsewhere in the Muslim world see Modi as a hardliner who harbours sectarian prejudices. Sharif was the first premier of Pakistan to be present at an inauguration of an Indian prime minister. The pair shook hands at the end of the ceremony.

The Independentofthe UK in its analysis on India-Pak said the relationship was weighed down by the weight of history and did not make much progress under the UPA. However, it said: Many in India believe the Hindu nationalist Mr Modi, who earlier this month won a landslide election, will have more capacity to deal with Pakistan as he will not be vulnerable to attacks from the right. His counterpart, who last year was elected for the third time as premier, is also seen as a nationalist and a religious conservative."

The South Morning China Post focused on Indo-Pak ties: "Most eyes remained on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose visit could signal a thaw in ties between the often hostile neighbours."

It also mentioned the comparison of Modi with China's Deng Xiaoping: "One foreign editor has ventured Modi could be so transformative he turns out to be "India's Deng Xiaoping ", the leader who set China on its path of spectacular economic growth".


Updated Date: May 27, 2014 12:59 PM

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