There was no word today from Pakistan on Premier Nawaz Sharif's visit to India to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister amidst reports that he was facing opposition from hardliners.
Online edition of Dawn newspaper reported that Pakistan's Foreign Office has recommended that Sharif should accept India's invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Modi on May 26 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.
The government is, however, yet to take a final decision on the invitation received on Wednesday. Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam had said yesterday that "whether the prime minister would attend or not will be decided some time today (Thursday)". Observers believe that the delay in taking a decision was probably due to pressure from hardliners against Sharif's visit to India.
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. Modi has invited the leaders of member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the ceremony. Prime Minister Sharif had phoned Modi to congratulate him on his party's election victory and invited him to visit Pakistan after assuming office.