Pakistan downplays Imran snub by India, pushes for dialogue
On Monday, Indian officials said there were no plans to invite Khan to PM Modi’s oath-taking ceremony. Hindustan Times reported that India was keen on leaders from BIMSTEC countries attending the event. This grouping excludes Pakistan.Updated: May 28, 2019 23:05 IST
Pakistan has played down a decision by the Indian government to not invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying India’s “internal politics” did not permit the latter to extend an invitation, Dawn newspaper reported on Tuesday.
“His [Modi’s] entire focus [during the election campaign] was on Pakistan-bashing. It was unwise to expect that he can get rid of this narrative [soon],” foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news channel.
On Monday, Indian officials said there were no plans to invite Khan to PM Modi’s oath-taking ceremony. Hindustan Times reported that India was keen on leaders from BIMSTEC countries attending the event. This grouping excludes Pakistan.
An Indian government statement said the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan — all members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation — had been invited to Modi’s swearing-in.
The government’s decision to invite leaders of BIMSTEC nations for PM-elect Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on May 30 reflects India’s reluctance to engage with Pakistan. The external affairs ministry had said on Monday the invitations were in line with India’s focus on ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
In 2014, Modi had invited SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) leaders, including then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony, in a move that was seen by analysts as an initiative by India to reach out to neighbouring countries.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 Pulwama suicide attack, in which 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed. India has maintained that talks with Pakistan cannot be restarted until Islamabad deals with terror outfits operating on its soil.