Newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has officially invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Modi’s inauguration ceremony, according to India’s victorious Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The BBC reported that this is believed to be the first time an olive branch of this magnitude has been extended to Pakistan’s Prime Minister.
On May 16, Modi and the BJP were victorious in an Indian election that experienced the highest quantitative voter turnout in history.
Modi is set to take the oath as India’s new leader on May 26.
In addition to Pakistan, Modi has also reached out to neighboring states Nepal and Bangladesh, said to be part of a grand strategy to become friendlier with fellow states in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. “India’s Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh writes to SAARC counterparts inviting their leaders to attend swearing-in ceremony on 26th May,” said India’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
If Prime Minister Sharif attends the ceremony, it will be the first time in the history of the two rival states that a Pakistani head of state attended India’s inauguration.
“Politically, inviting the regional leaders is a smart move. As the largest country in the region, India should be reaching out to its neighbors,” said foreign policy analyst C. Raja Mohan.
A close confidant of Sharif said Sharif may be too busy to attend, but if that is the case, a senior official representing Islamabad will certainly be in attendance.
The president of Sri Lanka confirmed receipt of an invitation, and he is expected to attend the ceremony. “The president has got the invitation similar (to) all other South Asian leaders. President Rajapaksa … will participate in the inauguration,” said a Sri Lankan presidential aide.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars between the neighboring states since their independence in 1947.