Pak downplays India's decision not to invite Imran for Modi's swearing-in on Thursday

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KARACHI: Pakistan has tried to downplay India's decision not to invite Imran Khan for Narendra Modi's swearing-in on Thursday, saying the Indian Prime Minister's ‘internal politics’ does not permit him to extend an invitation to his Pakistani counterpart.

 

On Monday, the government had 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 member of the 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.

Pakistan 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.

He was reacting to reports that India has not invited Pakistan Prime Minister Khan to Prime Minister Modi's inauguration.

"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," Dawn news quoted Qureshi as saying.

"India's internal politics did not permit him to extend an invitation," he added.

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.

On Sunday, Pak Prime Minister Khan spoke to his Indian counterpart Modi and expressed his desire to work together for the betterment of their peoples.

"Relations between the countries were based on reciprocity and PM Khan had congratulated Modi as a goodwill gesture," the Pakistani foreign minister said.

"Finding a new way to resume dialogue is also essential for India. If Modi wants development of this region, the only way is to sit with Pakistan to find a solution”, Qureshi said.

In April, Khan had said he believed there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settle the Kashmir issue if Modi's party BJP wins the general elections.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party bagged a landmark victory for a second five-year term in office.

The Bharathiya Janata Party had secured 303 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The party’s tally along with that of its allies (NDA) has been pushed up to 352 in the 17th Lok Sabha.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.

On February 14, an explosives-laden truck rammed into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama outside Srinagar, killing more than 40 soldiers in one of the biggest terror attacks in recent years.

The convoy comprised 78 buses in which around 2500 personnel were travelling from Jammu to Srinagar.

On February 26, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation and attacked terror camps in Balakot area in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The air strikes come 12 days after the dreaded terror outfit-Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) carried out a debilitating attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama.

In response, On February 27, Pakistani F-16 jets violated the Line of Control and the aerial fight ensued.

Subsequently, Indian fighter jet shot down Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet, which landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 and captured an Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. However, on March 1, he was released.

 

With inputs from PTI

 

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