Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will toady leave for India to attend the oath taking ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi, becoming the first ever Pakistani leader to do so.
63-year-old Modi, who led BJP to an astounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls, last week extended invitation to SAARC leaders including the Pakistan premier.
Sharif, accompanied by a small delegation, will leave Pakistan at 9.30 a.m. (local time) and land in New Delhi after a brief flight at around 11.00 a.m. (local time).
Sources said it is expected that the Pakistan leader will also give formal invitation to his counterpart for a visit.
The News last night reported that Sharif met his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif along with others in Lahore and discussed the visit.
“The premier said Pakistan wanted the resolution of all issues with India, including Kashmir, Sir Creek, water and trade, and it wanted to establish a relationship on the basis of equality for peace in the region,” the paper said, citing unnamed sources.
In the meeting, Sharif said the government’s decision to release arrested Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture and giving back the confiscated fishing boats for the first time in the history of the two sides was aimed at improving the ties.
No breakthrough is expected during the visit but it will provide the two leaders an opportunity to cultivate personal relations which go a long a way in reducing tensions.
Pakistan has avoided repeated reference to Kashmir before the visit which was in contrast to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s Agra trip of 2001 when he announced that the disputed region will be the central focus of the summit.
In another major development, Pakistan has so far not dropped any hint that Sharif will meet the Kashmiri leaders which is also a departure from the established tradition.
Musharraf’s high tea party by Pakistan High Commission in 2001 where the APHC leaders were invited had created a storm and almost rocked the entire trip.