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Invitation to Pakistan PM by Narendra Modi shows his readiness to engage with Nawaz Sharif: Former foreign secretary Salman Haidar
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister-designate of India has invited the head of the states of eight SAARC countries to his oath taking ceremony. And in this list of invitees include the Prime Minister of Pakistan also.

BJP had always taken a tough stand against any idea of talks with Pakistan. So why all of a sudden this change in approach. Is it a normal invitation or one should read more in it?

Pakistan has already shown positive response toward this invitation. Though it is not clear so far whether Nawaz Sharif will attend the swearing-in ceremony or he will send in his representative, but the opposition party like the Congress has already started questioning the sudden change of approach of BJP toward Pakistan.

If Nawaz Sharif attends the oath taking ceremony, then will it bring any normalcy in the relations between India and Pakistan? Is Modi having some concrete plans in his mind toward dealing the problem of Pak-sponsored terrorism, that he wants to execute during his meeting with Pak PM?

Salman Haidar, a former foreign secretary and former India's High Commissioner to London has to say that Modi's invitation to Nawaz Sharif shows his readiness to engage with Pakistan.

“It will show the readiness to engage with Pakistan, this is what I assume is the intention of the incoming prime minister. Obviously it is a terrible gesture that shows his readiness to engage with Pakistan, but beyond that I don't think we can say anything. Whether he accepts the invitations or not is secondary, gesture has been made by the incoming prime minister, if he accepts the invitation and comes here then there will be interaction between them, and then we will have to see where that interaction is leading to,” said Haidar.

Dr. Chintamani Mahapatra, professor of international studies at JNU, analyzed the pros of accepting the invitation and cons of not accepting it.

He said, “If Nawaz Sharif is sincere enough, he will personally attend the swearing in ceremony, it will show that army and ISI are not against this move. But if he does not attend the ceremony and sends an envoy, then it will be a signal that there are defence and political problems within Pakistan, which are holding him back.”

He also added that during this particular meeting there won't be any discussion on bilateral issues, but will open up gates for it.

Rajeev Chandrashekhar, an independent Member of Parliament in the upper house of Rajya Sabha who represents Karnataka state, while reacting on the invitation sent out by Modi to Sharif said in a Facebook post said that the invitation to Heads of the neighboring countries to attend his swearing-in ceremony is a bold and welcome move.

“It shows confidence, good intent and signals Modi’s intention to foster friendly relationship with our neighbours. This unprecedented gesture will make it first time neighboring countries Heads of States have been invited to the swearing-in of an Indian PM and is consistent with Narendra Modi’s beliefs in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – "World is a family"!”

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Naim Naqvi
Once upon a time Nawaz Sharif had stretched out an exceptional hand of friendship to India, pointing to neither Kashmir nor India having been an election issue in Pakistan, seeking a resumption of intensive dialogue with India, and demonstrating his earnest by inviting the Indian prime minister to his sw­earing in. The invitation was not taken up then or subsequ­ently, largely because of pressure against engaging sincerely and in depth with a Pakistan that had not brought Hafiz Saeed to book, nor proceeded with the expeditious trial of those involved in 26/11, nor handed over Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, besides being responsible for the beheading of Indian soldiers, the bludgeoning to death of Sarabjit Singh and more than one incursion into Kashmir across the Line of Control. None of that has changed. And yet, the very elements that most opposed even the courtesy invitation to lunch at 7, Race Course Road to outgoing Pakistan president, Asif Zardari, before he proceeded to perform ziarat at Ajmer Sharif, are now preening themselves at having pulled off the coup of getting the Pakistan PM to hop across to Rashtrapati Bhavan for what is being described as the “coronation” of the next Indian PM. They might have delusions about this being a repeat of the 1911 Durbar for the Laat Sahib with the feudatories all in attendance, but ours is a republic, not a monarchy, and the seven heads of government who have come are not salaam-ing maharajahs.
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