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News Analysis: India's PM-designate Modi scores diplomatic goal by inviting Pakistani premier to oath-taking ceremony

English.news.cn   2014-05-24 22:07:00

NEW DELHI, May 24 (Xinhua) -- After days of delay-dallying, Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif on Saturday finally accepted hard- line Hindu politician Narendra Modi's invitation to attend his swearing-in ceremony as the next Indian prime minister in the national capital on May 26.

Political analysts say by inviting Sharif, alongside other heads of government of South Asian nations, Modi has actually scored a massive diplomatic goal.

"It is the first time since the nuclear-armed arch-rivals won independence from Britain in 1947 that a prime minister from one country will attend the oath-taking ceremony of his counterpart in the other country. Modi's invitation to Sharif and the latter's acceptance have historical significance," said Prof Ajay Singh, an expert.

"Modi is a hard-line politician whose Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) holds a tough stance when it comes to national security issues, particularly on Pakistan. But his huge victory in general elections gave him a mandate to reach out to Pakistan in a way the outgoing Congress-led failed."

India and Pakistan have fought at least three major wars in the last 60 years over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Relations between the two countries soured following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which over 170 people were killed by 10 Pakistani militants.

Though Islamabad has denied any involvement in the mayhem, the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan stopped for some years.

"The talks eventually resumed and relations improved slightly under outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan. But there are still regular ceasefire violations along the international border in Kashmir. Modi's olive branch to Sharif shows his intention to give the troubled relations a boost," Delhi-based expert Prof S.K. Gupta said.

Singh was invited to Sharif's inauguration last year but did not show up.

"But Sharif did the right thing by accepting Modi's invitation. This also shows his intention to improve the relations between the two countries. Interestingly, both Modi and Sharif, known to be conservative politicians, campaigned on pro-business platforms and won general elections in their respective countries," Gupta added.

Prof Ranjan Chowdhury of Delhi University, an expert on foreign relations, said that in the end, it is Modi who has managed to score a massive diplomatic goal even before he assumes office.

"Not only Sharif, but by inviting leaders of other South Asian nations, Modi has made his foreign policy intentions clear. And invitation to Sharif indicates that the next Indian prime minister wants to have cordial relations with Pakistan. He has given a shape to a favorable direction to future talks with Pakistan," he said.

While the BJP has welcomed the decision of the Pakistani prime minister, the Congress wants India to raise issues like the Mumbai terror attacks with Sharif when he meets Modi one-to-one, a day after the oath taking ceremony.

"The BJP is looking at strong ties in our neighborhood and all invitees will be given equal importance. This is a start, we can't have a concrete foreign policy decided in two days, it will take time. But it's a good start. Sharif has accepted the invitation in the spirit in which it was sent," BJP leader M.J. Akbar said.

But the Congress wants more when Modi meets Sharif on May 27.

"I do hope that the BJP will raise the question of the Mumbai terror attacks trial. They will also talk about Hafiz Saeed ( alleged mastermind). We do hope the BJP remains true to the position that it has maintained in the past 10 years and raises these issues," said Manish Tewari, the outgoing information minister.

However, time will tell whether Modi's move will be fruitful for mending relations between the two countries.

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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