No invitation for Pakistani PM to Modi’s swearing-in rooted in ‘Pakistan bashing’ campaign – FM

Pakistan downplayed reports of India not inviting PM Imran Khan to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, saying it was a logical step given the “Pakistan-bashing” during the election campaign.

Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi said “his [Modi’s] entire focus [during the election campaign] was on Pakistan-bashing.”

Earlier, New Delhi invited leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)—which alongside India includes Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan—to Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on Thursday. When Modi first took office in 2014, Pakistan’s then leader, Nawaz Sharif, attended the inauguration alongside leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) body.

However, relations between India and Pakistan have dipped to their lowest in decades over the past months. In February, a suicide bomb attack by Pakistan-based jihadists in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed 40 members of India’s paramilitary police force, prompting renewed border clashes and aerial battles between Indian and Pakistani forces. However, an all-out conflict between the two nuclear powers was averted.

As part of efforts to normalize relations, Qureshi noted that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had telephoned Modi to congratulate his BJP party on securing a second term in office last week. During the conversation, Khan had “expressed desire for both countries to work together for [the] betterment of their peoples,” according to a foreign ministry statement.

Earlier, Khan sent his congratulations to Modi on Twitter, to which the Indian Prime Minister responded with gratitude, saying: “I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region.”

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