ISLAMABAD / KARACHI As India did not invite Pakistan premier Imran Khan for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in on Thursday, Islamabad on Tuesday said Indian Prime Minister’s “internal politics” do not permit him to extend an invitation to his Pakistani counterpart.
The government on Monday announced in New Delhi that it has invited leaders from BIMSTEC countries to Prime Minister Modi’s inauguration, leaving out Pakistan, which is not a part of the seven-member regional grouping.
The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
Reacting to reports that India has not invited Prime Minister Khan to Prime Minister Modi’s inauguration, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said a meeting for the sake of dialogue to find a solution to the Kashmir issue, as well as Siachen and Sir Creek disputes, would have been a significant measure instead of attending the swearing-in ceremony.
“His (Prime Minister 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),” Qureshi was quoted as saying by Dawn news.
“India’s internal politics did not permit him to extend an invitation,” he said.
Modi and Khan are scheduled to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kyrgyzstan next month.
In 2014, then Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif had attended Prime Minister Modi’s swearing-in held on May 26 in New Delhi when the leaders of SAARC countries were invited.
Speaking to Geo News on Monday, Qureshi said Modi had congratulated Khan after he won the general election last year and wrote a letter as well.
No Decision On Modi-Khan Meet In Bishkek: Report
India’s policy of not having talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross border terrorism remains unchanged and no decision has been taken as yet on any meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Bishkek next month, official sources said.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since early 2016 following a terror attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in January that year, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
Modi is attending the annual summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Kyrgyztan’s capital Bishkek on June 13-14. Khan is also scheduled to participate in the annual meet of the China-dominated grouping.
Government sources said no decision has been taken on any meeting between Modi and Khan on the sidelines of the SCO summit.
“A decision on the issue will be taken by the new government,” said a source, without completely ruling out the possibility of a meeting between the two prime ministers.
Another source said reports appearing in a section of the media about a possible meeting between Modi and Khan are entirely speculative.
In a reflection of India’s reluctance to engage with Pakistan, the government has preferred to invite leaders of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as prime minister for a second term on May 30.
Besides India, BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
In 2014, Modi had invited all SAARC leaders including the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony, in a major initiative to reach out to the neighbourhood.