Pakistan not invited to India PM Modi's swearing-in ceremony

Pakistan not invited to India PM Modi's swearing-in ceremony
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan won't be in attendance at his Indian counterpart's swearing-in ceremony after he was denied an invitation.
2 min read
Narendra Modi is set for another five-year term after a landslide victory [Getty]

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will not be invited to the swearing-in of his recently elected Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, two Indian government sources told Reuters.

The leaders of India and Pakistan spoke by phone on Sunday, their offices said, in their first conversation since before tit-for-tat air strikes in February. But the lack of invitation suggests that relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals has not warmed considerably.

Prime Minister Khan congratulated Modi on his recent election victory in which his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last week sealed a landslide election win, thanks in part to Modi talking tough about Pakistan.

The leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan were invited to the ceremony, Reuters reported, along with Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius.

Pakistan's exclusion could be due to the style of Modi's election campaign, in which he "bashed" Pakistan, sugggested Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

"To expect that he will get rid of his narrative and invite the entire opposition to criticise him, it was not possible," Qureshi told Pakistani Geo TV late on Monday.

The attendance of Pakistan's previous Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Modi’s 2014 swearing in ceremony provoked the anger of some of Modi's Hindu-nationalist allies.

Tensions escalated in February after a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir - divided between India and Pakistan since partition in 1947 - claimed by a militant group based in Pakistan killed 40 Indian troops.

India and Pakistan then carried out tit-for-tat air strikes, but to the great relief of the international community the two countries retreated from the brink of further action.

Earlier this month, in a diplomatic victory for India, the UN added Masood Azhar, the leader of the group that claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, to its terrorist blacklist.

The group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), itself has been on the UN terror list since 2001.

The last time that Modi and Khan spoke before Sunday’s call is believed to have been when Modi congratulated his counterpart on his election victory in July 2018.

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