New Delhi : Notwithstanding an invite by Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his new government, foreign ministry sources ruled out Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accepting it.
The official government stand, however, runs contrary to the ruling Congress wanting him to undertake his long-awaited visit to
Islamabad. On Monday, the Congress officially extended greetings to Sharif and welcomed the first-ever civilian transition of power in Pakistan. “We commend and compliment Pakistani people for braving threats, and coming out to vote in large numbers to elect their representatives,” newly-appointed party spokesman Meem Afzal said in his first interaction with the media here.
His official comments on behalf of the Congress are in contrast to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in 2006 rocking Dr Singh’s peace proposals on Siachen and Sir Creek as UP elections were under way. A year later, the party also took the PM to task for Sharm-ul-Sheikh joint statement, where he had equated Kashmir with Balochistan.
The party’s changed stance stems from many senior Congress leaders stressing that it is now time to strengthen democratic forces in Pakistan, who are haunted by terrorist elements, but warn a cautious approach as they agree with the security establishment that great diligence and preparations were required for a result-oriented visit.
Sharif sent out an invitation to Dr Manmohan Singh in his interaction with the foreign media at his home in Lahore. “I will be very happy to extend that invitation. If they will come, it will be a great pleasure for me and for Pakistan.” The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials said they would react only after receiving a proper invitation.