Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday declined the invitation of PM-in-waiting Nawaz Sharif to attend his oath taking ceremony as a gesture to further the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Indian media said that it is highly unlikely that Manmohan Singh would visit Pakistan as they would first like to gauge what Nawaz Sharif’s government has to offer on the many issues that remain unresolved.
It should be mentioned that PML-N President, Mian Nawaz Sharif, poised to become prime minister for a third time, had stated on Monday that the mistrust that has long dogged relations with India must be tackled.
He had a “long chat” with Manmohan Singh during which the two exchanged invitations to visit a diplomatic nicety in some parts of the world but a heavily symbolic step for South Asia’s arch-rivals.
Sharif’s power base is Pakistan’s most prosperous province, Punjab, which sits across the border from an Indian state with the same name. A proponent of free market, he wants to see trade between the two countries unshackled, and he has a history of making conciliatory gestures towards New Delhi.
In 1999, when he was last prime minister, Sharif stood at the frontier post waiting to welcome his counterpart – Atal Behari Vajpayee – to arrive on the inaugural run of a bus service between New Delhiand Lahore.
It was a moment of high hope for two countries that were divided amid bloodshed at birth in 1947 and went on to wage war three times in the decades that followed.