Unexpected invite: PM ‘likely’ to attend Modi’s oath-taking

Published: May 22, 2014
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A well-informed high-ranking government official, however, disclosed that the Foreign Office would recommend the prime minister accept the invitation. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A well-informed high-ranking government official, however, disclosed that the Foreign Office would recommend the prime minister accept the invitation. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Barring any last-minute changes, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to travel to New Delhi next week to attend the swearing-in ceremony of India’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi, The Express Tribune has learnt. In an unprecedented move, India invited leaders of all South Asian countries including Premier Nawaz to Modi’s oath-taking ceremony scheduled for May 26.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam confirmed to The Express Tribune that Pakistan has received the formal invitation. She added that it hasn’t been decided yet whether the premier would attend the ceremony or not.

A well-informed high-ranking government official, however, disclosed that the Foreign Office would recommend the prime minister accept the invitation.

“This is a rare moment and will be a huge game changer. We should not let this opportunity go. Opportunities if viscerally squandered do not arise again easily and quickly. This is the moment to show vision and leadership,” said the official requesting anonymity.

The official added that the newly elected Indian prime minister ‘means business’ and his invitation was not a formality but a serious move to improve ties between the two countries. “We should respect India’s democratic verdict. Clinging to past will take us nowhere in the future,” the official argued. “It’s the first time a Pakistani prime minister has been invited to the oath taking of an Indian prime minister.”

The rare move on the part of the incoming Indian premier appears to dismiss speculations that relations between the two neighbours could deteriorate due to the victory of the hard-line Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the marathon parliamentary polls. The decision is also seen as significant, considering the tough language used by Modi against Pakistan during his election campaign.

Islamabad has already made it clear that it is ready to work with whoever forms the next government in India. Nawaz was one of the first leaders to telephone Modi and congratulate him on his party’s impressive election victory.

Given Nawaz’s policy of a peaceful neighbourhood, the official disclosed that he would not be surprised if the prime minister accepts Modi’s invitation. “The final decision will be taken after consultations with all stakeholders,” he said, referring to the country’s security establishment, which always has a say on such matters.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai already confirmed to attend the ceremony.

Despite Modi’s controversial political history, international leaders are now rushing to congratulate him.

China has already done so and US President Barack Obama, with whom Modi and his party have a frosty relationship, has spoken to India’s PM-elect on the phone.

The swearing-in ceremony, to be held at the forecourt of the historic Rashtrapati Bhavan, is likely to be attended by as many as 3,000 guests. Modi will be sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India by President Pranab Mukherjee.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2014.

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Reader Comments (76)

  • ISROFan
    May 22, 2014 - 3:13AM

    @ET Modi is the 18th Prime Minister of India.

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  • Nazir
    May 22, 2014 - 3:16AM

    Who else could be dearest to India as Nawaz Shariff.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    May 22, 2014 - 3:24AM

    Mian Sahib should go to India and start a new beginning. Both nuclear states have only one option..Peace!

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  • uzair
    May 22, 2014 - 3:58AM

    If no mumbai or Kargil happens, India will get mfn status next year. Pak players will play next IPL. If security in Pak improves, India could play a (1) game in Lahore in 3 years, attended by nawaz and modi. It’d also be first visit by modi…. To everyone saying bad things about modi, let’s talk about the good things that can and will happen. ET pls publish

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  • Beck
    May 22, 2014 - 4:01AM

    But he needs the clearance from establishment.

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  • Pmahmud
    May 22, 2014 - 4:12AM

    It will be just photo ops for leaders, so don’t read too much into it. But then there is no trust among the countries. I’m hoping that Modi knows how to be graceful host.

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  • Good Job
    May 22, 2014 - 4:18AM

    I think this is a good move. There are not much expectations attached, since this is just a ceremony; however, it serves as a good token gesture to break the ice. Even otherwise, this is a gathering of SAARC figureheads and other diplomats, which is a good friendly opportunity. Proceeding this meeting, the secretaries can take over and discuss serious business. Any direct 1-to-1 summit-level meeting would not have served much and that would have been taken as a disappointment. There is no such risk with this event.

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  • Usman
    May 22, 2014 - 5:19AM

    The key question is, is Nawaz going to fawn over Modi and capitulate all of Pakistan’s concerns for a friendly Modi? Or are we at least going to talk about Balochistan, Sir Creek, Siachen, Indus Water Treaty, Support to the TTP, and Kashmir? I’ve left off our fishermen and regular LOC violations of the list for now.

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  • Babloo
    May 22, 2014 - 5:47AM

    It would be very graceful of Pakistan to accept the invite.

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  • kulwant singh
    May 22, 2014 - 5:56AM

    Thank you Mr PM for accepting the invitation it is good beginning and it shows that you are really a good leader and he will surely invite Modi to visit Pakistan and he must accept the invitation forgetting the past.

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  • Polpot
    May 22, 2014 - 6:00AM

    Modi has shown his operating style: He can be decisive and he can be unpredictable
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    This will cause the slumber of the ossified Paki FO to be greatly disturbed.

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  • kamal
    May 22, 2014 - 6:10AM

    Thallay lagaey jaa. We are really a disgraceful lot. The US is not attending because they believe Modi is a racist and was behind the Gujrat massacres of muslims. But we are eager to please the masters and accepting Modi’s invitation. What a parody.

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  • Azmat Khan
    May 22, 2014 - 6:26AM

    It is a great event and opportunity for Pakistan and Nawaz Sharif.to participate in this ceremony.And Nawaz Sharif should take with him some opposition parliamentarians too.

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  • El Cid
    May 22, 2014 - 6:51AM

    PM should not fall into this trap. Acceptance of the invite would be de facto ratification of Modi’s Gujarat Genocide.

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  • a&a
    May 22, 2014 - 6:55AM

    Yes!!!! PM should go ahead…….Recommend

  • THE
    May 22, 2014 - 7:13AM

    OK now…. Nawaz is already in the process of getting his polio certificate ready… WHO would have thought this would happen!!

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  • Polpot
    May 22, 2014 - 7:35AM

    @El Cid: “PM should not fall into this trap. Acceptance of the invite would be de facto ratification of Modi’s Gujarat Genocide.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Too late. NS already trapped by being first to phone and congratulate Modi.
    Be quick with ur advice in future.

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  • Polpot
    May 22, 2014 - 7:37AM

    Unexpected invite: PM ‘likely’ to attend Modi’s oath-taking”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    But what if a la Musharraf he develops pain in the chest?

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  • Polpot
    May 22, 2014 - 7:42AM

    “he added that it hasn’t been decided yet whether the premier would attend the ceremony or not.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    They are going to toss a coin but the right coin has not been available as yet.

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  • Mirza
    May 22, 2014 - 7:47AM

    Good to see two neighbors are behaving like mature brothers not blood enemies. I believe Modi wants to prove that his election is not fluke and he represents the whole country. There would be several Muslims on BJP ticket in the next elections. Nobody wants to be controversial in history. Great beginning, let us hope our foreign policy makers do not stop PM NS.

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  • Lunacyassailam
    May 22, 2014 - 7:48AM

    If the Scythian Muslims dont accept the invite, there will be consequences.Seems like.

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  • Ozair
    May 22, 2014 - 8:19AM

    Yes go ahead Mr PM. It is only befitting that a person like you should attend oath taking of a person like Modi

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  • Khattak
    May 22, 2014 - 9:01AM

    India is an emerging power to reckon with. By not attending the ceremony, Pakistan will be isolated further. Look how smart is Karzai, he accepted the invitation without a blink.

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  • observer
    May 22, 2014 - 9:04AM

    wow one more foreign trip….keep it up Mr.P.M.

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  • shahid
    May 22, 2014 - 9:23AM

    As undecided as he is, he is in a dilemma whether to go there Crawling or Running; Once somebody else decides for him what to do, then he will do what he is told to do and show that he has taken the decision;

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  • Ahmed Sharif
    May 22, 2014 - 9:29AM

    Nawaz Sharif must be praying hard to get invited. He got the chance which he not going to miss it. He find excuses to leave the country so that sitting in foreign country he looks after his international businesses.

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  • Gp65
    May 22, 2014 - 9:34AM

    @Pmahmud:
    Do you not see the invitation itself as a graceful act?

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  • Gp65
    May 22, 2014 - 9:40AM

    @kamal:
    US President has personally invited Modi to India. When Modi was cool about that invitation, it was repeated by Kerry.

    No one has accused Modi of racism.

    The visa ban happened in 2005 after which Modi never applied for US visa. There has been much more information in public domain since then including Supreme court acquittal and 12 years of riot free governance.

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  • Kay
    May 22, 2014 - 9:41AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:
    Moreover NS needs another foreign tour to keep himself away from Pakistan problems.

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  • Usman Aziz
    May 22, 2014 - 9:53AM

    Stupidity of media and so called intellectuals of Pakistan, no one mention the hard facts of indian invasion in Siachin and separation of East Pakistan because here everyone is told just about Kargil and mumbai attacks, even separation of East Pakistan as sole mistake of Pakistanis, every1 ready to forget role of india in that……. pathetic

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  • goldconsumer
    May 22, 2014 - 9:54AM

    @Polpot:
    “This will cause the slumber of the ossified Paki FO to be greatly disturbed.”

    If I am not wrong, we did invite Mr. Manmohan to our Oath taking ceremony which he bluntly refused. Dont make a fuss out of it. Let there be good beginings to a relationship that lags trust.

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  • ModiFied
    May 22, 2014 - 9:58AM

    Mr Sharrif should not miss this opportunity as he will get massive media coverage, Don’t be surprised if he gets a hug from Mr Modi.Recommend

  • Usman Aziz
    May 22, 2014 - 10:02AM

    how short memories Pakistanis have, the killer of thousands of Muslims is being welcomed, how can we expect respect from anyone with such a disgusting attitude………

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  • jk
    May 22, 2014 - 10:23AM

    A very good initiative taken by the incoming Indian premier.

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  • liaqat ali
    May 22, 2014 - 10:33AM

    NS wanted to invite Indian PM to his own oath taking but desisited from it under establishment pressure. My guess is that this time they may allow him to attend but then blame him for doing so. NS is a reluctanant follower which our establishment dont like. They like full un conditional complaiance. Look at the tamasha being orchesterated on the roads with help of opportunistic politicains.I hope NS is allowed to start a new beginning with India for better future of our people and I sincerely hope that PTI whome I voted for do not become a mere tool in the hands of our dear establishment. I have uncomfortable feeling that they lraeady are. Are they afraid that NS will do so much work that all other will have no chance?

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  • Timorlane
    May 22, 2014 - 10:36AM

    He should not attend it, it’s not exclusively for him but Pakistan’s ruling class has no sense of self respect for this country so most probably he will go there

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  • Usman
    May 22, 2014 - 10:37AM

    @Usman Aziz: Do we possibly have the shortest memory of any nation in the world? Is this some new India that our journalists, so called intellectuals and bureaucrats are fawning over? Ask our soldiers in Siachen, Sir Creek, Balochistan and FATA, and they will tell you who is spilling the blood of Pakistanis. By capitulating in front of Modi, someone who won his elections on the basis of Anti-Pakistan slogans, Nawaz is slowly but surely returning to his true form, apologetic, and tactless.

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  • Feroz
    May 22, 2014 - 10:50AM

    This gesture of inviting SAARC leaders is not politics, merely goodwill. China, US, Japan or other countries have not been invited, just neighbors. When we have a function or marriage in our house we cannot invite the whole locality or town even if we want to, just neighbors. The Government is not formed as yet, no ministerial portfolios have been allotted, formulating policies is still some distance away. Therefore this is not an invitation for talks being too early for it, its just an event to meet and greet, a smiling photo op. Reading more is meaningless.

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  • Iqbal
    May 22, 2014 - 10:54AM

    We have to think what is in the long term interest of the country. Think like the Europeans, they gave up their internal differences and formed the euro zone after the world war and are better for it except where leaders have managed their countries like in Italy and Greece.

    Our PM should attend to start a new beginning

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  • NITIN SATI
    May 22, 2014 - 11:00AM

    I am very SURE that all this hype will not come true.. and Mr. Sharif will not visit India, at least this time.

    However, he may send his brother Mr. Shahbaz or any minister of his cabinet to attend the swear-in ceremony of Mr. Modi.

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  • sharabi
    May 22, 2014 - 11:01AM

    @Usman Aziz
    killer was the mob that burnt the 60 innocent Hindu children, women ALIVE in train.

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  • Rahul
    May 22, 2014 - 11:18AM

    @usman aziz if you were so empathetic towards killing of Muslims why talk to china what’s happening in xinjiang province? What about syria what’s your connection there? What about gaddafi whom you you named a stadium after? What about your own country targeting Shias ahemdis and other minorities?

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  • zoro
    May 22, 2014 - 11:52AM

    Sharif caught in hid own trap of diplomacy ??

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  • Polpot
    May 22, 2014 - 12:12PM

    NS Visiting India is like visiting Hamid Gul in the Hospital
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    An act of defiance..maybe NS should buy a house in India s well.

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  • Usman Aziz
    May 22, 2014 - 12:46PM

    @Rahul:
    at the moment we have issue in hand is Modi (the killer) so i pst comments about him the other u have mentioned are not under discussion.

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  • Rex Minor
    May 22, 2014 - 12:46PM

    @Usman Aziz:

    The Prime Minister of Pakistan is the man with experience and should do what he must, his fate is predetermined! It will be his decision and he personaly will bear the consequences for such a decision.

    Rex Minor

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  • Mega
    May 22, 2014 - 12:52PM

    @rahul add on to that what about Bangladesh 71, and many Islamic nations who’s own records say they target their own minority sects. But they talk to them. Hypocrisy. They have selective memory and prejudice nothing else

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  • El Cid
    May 22, 2014 - 2:13PM

    @Polpot: “NS already trapped by being first to phone and congratulate Modi.”

    Nope, that is normal protocol. That was a wise move by NS. It demonstrated his goodwill without compromising Pakistan’s moral high ground. Accepting the invitation will compromise it irrevocably.

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  • Polpot
    May 22, 2014 - 2:32PM

    @El Cid: “Pakistan’s moral high ground”
    ++++++++++++++++++++
    Sir I compliment you on your fine sense of humor. Shabash.

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  • Ali
    May 22, 2014 - 2:34PM

    The army won’t let it happen. Peace means less budget defence. As simple as that.
    Our problem since inception.

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  • writer
    May 22, 2014 - 2:37PM

    PM will definitely go, his wife and daughter would love to do shopping. That is beside the point. Depending upon Army and other stakeholders advice, it would be an excellent exercise to improve relations with India although if he goes there will definitely be a lot of tension but respectful airs and graces.

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  • Shahriyar
    May 22, 2014 - 2:41PM

    PM should not go there

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  • Shamsher Singh Bajwa
    May 22, 2014 - 3:27PM

    I want India and Pakistan to have better relationships. Enough with this never ending hatred! Lets start a new beginning!

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  • Imran
    May 22, 2014 - 4:23PM

    he must go just for the sake of formality, dont indulge in dialogue with them

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  • Aseem
    May 22, 2014 - 4:26PM

    @ISROFan:
    How come Modi is 18th PM? 1. Nehru, 2. Gulzarilal Nanda, 3. Shastri, 4. Indira, 5. Morarji, 6. Charan Singh, 7. Rajiv Gandhi, 8. VP Singh, 9. Chandra Shekhar, 10. Narsimharao, 11. Devegowda, 12. Gujral, 13. Vajpayi, 14. Manmohan Singh, 15. Modi

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  • Indian reader
    May 22, 2014 - 4:29PM

    Is Mr. Nawaz Sharif Polio Vaccinated ?

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  • G. Din
    May 22, 2014 - 4:37PM

    @ISROFan:
    “@ET Modi is the 18th Prime Minister of India.”
    Wrong! ET is right. Modi is the 15th PM of India. Easy enough to verify. India elects a PM every five years and it is only 66 years that it has been doing so and some PM’s have served more than one term.
    Mian n
    Nawaz Sharief is one of five SAARC heads that have been invited. This is not an exclusive honour extended to Pakistan. Pakistanis should get over this delusion that Pakistan is somehow special and the world leaders fall all over each other to gain its attention.

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  • goggi (Lahore)
    May 22, 2014 - 4:46PM

    In the absence of Begum Modi, it would be advisable that Mian Saab makes the journey without Begum Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif!

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  • Singh
    May 22, 2014 - 5:08PM

    @kamal:
    Modi did not Invite Barak.

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  • Aseem
    May 22, 2014 - 5:16PM

    Dy. National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu has already set the tone for the dialogue. Both countries are facing problem of terror hence this needs to be sorted out first.

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  • May 22, 2014 - 5:18PM

    Don’t go there Mr PM.

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  • May 22, 2014 - 5:19PM

    @Shamsher Singh Bajwa:
    without solving the major issues core issues Kashmir, Siachen, sir creek, there will never be any new beginning other then words but nothing practically on grounds.

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  • madhu
    May 22, 2014 - 6:09PM

    this is a game-changer moment in south asia. Nawaz saheb will do a favour to 1.8 billion people of SAARC by grabbing this historic opportunity and meet with modi and the other saarc leaders- now is the time for visionary leaders to work hard to create peace and amity all over the world.Mistakes have been made in the past… now the time is to create prosperity, create jobs, build homes for billions of people, how??? not by wasting on defence expenditures but by building factories, offices, jobs, homes, hospitals, roads, …. give respect and get respect- everything is mutual…..give love and get love… hail to the new india-pakistan relations

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  • Abu Noor
    May 22, 2014 - 6:09PM

    Can I request ISI to approve NS visit to India? Plsssssssssssss

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  • Khurram kaleem
    May 22, 2014 - 6:31PM

    The Visit of NS will outshine his passion to acccelerate economic growth of India Pakistan and afghanistan .Jeay NS

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  • Pnpuri
    May 22, 2014 - 7:26PM

    Let this visit come through without any hype. Because hype will only result in a competitive expression of expectations on both sides some sort of upmanship, which may result in to another fiasco.Recommend

  • Ahmed Sharif
    May 22, 2014 - 9:21PM

    @Rahul:

    Rahul, In Xingxiang the rebels and govt is fighting, In Syria, Libya and the middle eastern countries the fighting going on coz of western agenda. We cannot blame muslim govt only.
    In India Modi’s followers hate any minorities especially muslims and they killed innocent muslims on being hate mongering. Thats the difference I hope you realised.

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  • gp65
    May 22, 2014 - 11:18PM

    @Aseem: “How come Modi is 18th PM? 1. Nehru, 2. Gulzarilal Nanda, 3. Shastri, 4. Indira, 5. Morarji, 6. Charan Singh, 7. Rajiv Gandhi, 8. VP Singh, 9. Chandra Shekhar, 10. Narsimharao, 11. Devegowda, 12. Gujral, 13. Vajpayi, 14. Manmohan Singh, 15. Modi”

    When a person is sworn in as PM on 2 distinct occassions after someone has served as a PM in the intervening period, it is counted as a distinct number. That is the case with Gulzarilal Nanda and Indira Gandhi. That still makes it 17th though not 18th.Recommend

  • niamon
    May 23, 2014 - 1:22AM

    please go and bow infront of Indian pm and ask for his forgiveness.. tell him how sorry you are for our mistakes and we would never confront India

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  • Blue Liberal
    May 23, 2014 - 10:47AM

    @ISROFan Modi is the 15th Prime Minister of India.

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  • May 23, 2014 - 11:40AM

    Attending Modi’s swearing-in ceremony is like pardoning his involvement in the murder of 2,200 Muslims in 2002 in Gujerat. Nawaz is most likely to go and attend the ceremony of Satan incarnate.
    Rushing towards peace between the two countries must be gradual and not hasty. Salams

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  • May 23, 2014 - 3:52PM

    No Prime Minister of India can walk a narrow lane. Modi with overwhelming strength in parliament is a good sign for Pakistan as there will be more work and less posturing.

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  • Raman
    May 23, 2014 - 4:47PM

    Nawaz is a puppet. Army and ISI controls Pak. His visit may not materialize. Even if he visits, it may not bring any results as there are too many power centres in Pak.

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  • Roshan
    May 23, 2014 - 8:07PM

    Hafiz Sayeed tells Nawz not to go. Army okays his going.
    ISI is not happy about his going. USA is pressurizing him to go.
    Poor Nawaz is facing biggest dilemma of his life – to go or not to go.

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  • Naz
    May 23, 2014 - 8:20PM

    @uzair:

    Uzair.. i love your plan… but there are more NON-STATE ACTORS who may not liek this workflow….. So what is PLAN B if there is a 26/11 or Parliment attack or Kargil like situation again…. I think Modi will be plannign for PLAN B as well even though i dont want to hear it now…

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  • RS
    May 23, 2014 - 9:59PM

    Think positively and give the to be PM – Modiji a chance to be on his course; the unity of the majority has given scope for a strong, stable and committed government; further show of strength by one and all in the country will definitely usher in an era, the whole world will admire and appreciate INDIA as a major force to be reckoned with. The success of the Oath Taking Ceremony will by itself a message to the whole world in totality and to all the concerned in its appropriate sense – better understanding, consensus to sort out real issues and of course with the much needed commitment. It is a fair chance to everybody to work together.

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