Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to attend Modi's swearing-in

Pakistan's Premier Nawaz Sharif will be attending Monday's swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi, his office has confirmed on Saturday.

The development comes amidst reports that he was facing opposition from hardliners within the establishment, including the Pakistani Army.

Sharif will be in India for a day visit and will be flying in to New Delhi from Lahore, PML(N) spokesperson Tariq Azim has confirmed, adding that both the leaders will have a short meeting as well.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

Sharif will be accompanied by a 4-member delegation which will include also Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to Pakistan PM.

Mohyuddin Wani, the joint secretary of Pakistan's Prime Minister's Office, also confirmed to Reuters that Pakistan had accepted India's invitation to Sharif to attend Modi's swearing-in with along with other South Asian leaders.

The BJP also welcomed the move, saying it will help better ties between the two countries.

"We are happy with the decision, we welcome it... our PM designate had invited him and the invitation was extended as we wanted our neighbours to participate in the process of democracy.. it's a proactive step on the part of our government," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told CNN-IBN.

On Friday, as the suspense mounted amid reports that he was weighing all options, 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 & misgivings," she tweeted.

She followed it up with another tweet, "It's upon the leaders to lead their countries & ppl to peace & conciliation."

This was read by analysts as a possible indication of her father's desire to travel to India.

Online edition of Dawn newspaper had reported that Pakistan's Foreign Office has recommended that Sharif should accept India's invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Modi on 26 May in New Delhi.

"It will be a mistake to let this opportunity go. We need to see beyond today," a senior diplomat at the Foreign Office (FO) was quoted as saying.

"The Foreign Office has made the recommendation and the decision will most likely be in favour," the official said.

Pakistan's ambivalence on the invitation to Sharif had been seen by observers in New Delhi as a manifestation of the tussle between the elected government and the all-powerful Army establishment in Islamabad. The establishment may not be wanting Sharif to travel to New Delhi.

The invitation for Sharif had sparked a debate in the country on whether it should be accepted or not, particularly in view of strains in bilateral ties and non-acceptance of a Pakistani invitation by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the past, the report said.

Modi has invited 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.

With PTI inputs

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Updated Date: May 24, 2014 14:04:18 IST

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