Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is considering inviting the leaders of the SAARC countries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his oath taking ceremony as the premier next month, a party official said Tuesday.
The PTI, led by 65-year-old Khan, has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly after the July 25 elections, but it is still short of numbers to form the government on its own. Khan yesterday said that he would take oath as prime minister on August 11.
“The core committee of Tehreek-i-Insaf is considering inviting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) heads including Modi and a decision on this is expected shortly,” a leader of Khan’s party said. He also termed Modi’s telephone call to Khan on his victory in the 2018 polls a welcoming sign to begin a new chapter in relations between the two countries.
Spokesperson for Khan’s party Fawad Chaudhry also did not rule out inviting Modi to the swearing in ceremony.
“A decision about it will be taken by the party in consultation with the foreign ministry in coming days,” he said.
Modi Monday telephoned Khan to congratulate him on his party’s victory in the general elections and hoped that “Pakistan and India will work to open a new chapter in bilateral ties”.
Khan thanked Modi for his wishes and emphasised that disputes should be resolved through dialogue. “Wars and bloodshed instead of resolving disputes lead to tragedies,” Khan had said.
Khan in his victory speech had also said that better relations between Pakistan and India would be “good for all of us”.
“If India’s leadership is ready, we are ready to improve ties with India. If you take on step forward we will take two steps forward,” he had said.
The relations between India and Pakistan remained tense since 2014. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had travelled to Delhi to attend Modi’s oath taking ceremony and the Indian premier had in December 2015 made a stopover in Lahore to greet his counterpart on his birthday.
The India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place.
The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016 and India’s surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The sentencing of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a military court in April last year further deteriorated bilateral ties
The two sides often accuse each other of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control, resulting in civilian casualties.