Pakistan's Foreign Office has recommended Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept India's invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of premier-elect Narendra Modi on May 26 in New Delhi, saying it will be a "mistake" to let this opportunity go. "The Foreign Office has made the recommendation and the decision will most likely be in favour," a senior diplomat at the Foreign Office (FO) said.
"It will be a mistake to let this opportunity go. We need to see beyond today," the official was quoted by Dawn online as saying. The government is, however, yet to take a final decision on the invitation received on Wednesday.
Modi has invited the leaders of member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the ceremony. The invitation for Sharif has 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 Pakistani invitation by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the past, the report said.
Prime Minister Sharif had phoned Modi to congratulate him on his party's election victory and invited him to visit Pakistan after assuming office. Though the BJP's victory in elections was cautiously received in Pakistan because of the party's extremist views and hardline position on issues concerning Pakistan, the government?s official position has been that it will "comprehensively and meaningfully" engage with the Modi government.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Ahmed Shah has also asked Sharif to accept the invitation in the larger interest of the people of the two countries.
Talking to reporters in his Parliament House chamber, Shah said such a gesture would help improve the situation in the region and the people in both countries would heave a sigh of relief. "Better relations between India and Pakistan are in the interest of the poor people in both the countries," he said, adding that it was time that the two countries worked for development of their nations instead of focusing on fights.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam told reporters at the weekly briefing yesterday that "whether the prime minister would attend or not will be decided some time today".
She said Pakistan's expectation from the meeting, if it takes place, would be that it led to resumption of the dialogue process that would be "meaningful and constructive; a dialogue with a view to resolving the outstanding disputes between our two countries so that this region can have durable peace. "We expect this dialogue to be uninterrupted and uninterruptible."