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Pakistan: Imran Khan invites Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Aamir Khan to his swearing-in

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has emerged as the single largest party after the Pakistan elections. Photo: Getty Images

New Delhi: Speculation may be rife about Imran Khan, widely tipped to be Pakistan’s next prime minister, inviting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his swearing-in ceremony but a news report said Khan has extended invitations to Indian actor Aamir Khan and former cricketers Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu to his oath-taking ceremony on 11 August.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the single largest party in Pakistan’s National Assembly after the 25 July general elections but it is short of numbers to form the government on its own. The PTI is said to be in talks with other political parties and independents join its ranks to make up the numbers for a coalition government.

A report in Pakistan’s Express Tribune news paper quoting PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said that the party has invited former Indian cricketers Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu to the ceremony. Chaudhury also added that Indian actor Amir Khan had also been invited for the swearing-in ceremony expected on 11 August. PTI had approached the Pakistan Foreign Office on this matter, the paper reported.

Dev and Siddhu did not respond to calls or messages seeking confirmation to the Express Tribune report. Chaudhury however did not confirm that invites had been sent to the leaders of South Asian countries, including Modi. A person familiar with the developments on the Indian side said an invitation for Modi had “not yet” come.

Chaudhry on Tuesday said in a Twitter post had said that the party would take a decision on inviting foreign dignitaries including South Asian leaders after consulting the Pakistan Foreign Office.

Modi had called Khan to congratulate him on his party’s victory in the Pakistan elections on Monday and during the conversation hoped that “Pakistan and India will work to open a new chapter in bilateral ties”,

Modi had in 2014 invited South Asian heads of state or governments to his inauguration in New Delhi. The invitees had included then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The two sides had subsequently tried to open talks frozen since 2013 but the attempt failed with Pakistan insisting on engaging Kashmiri separatists ahead of talks with Indian officials. Subsequent efforts to resume the dialogue also ran aground.

Also read: India’s Imran Khan challenge

The prospects for engagement looked up when Modi met Sharif on the sidelines of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in November 2015. This was followed by a meeting of the national security advisors of the two countries in Bangkok and Modi himself making a surprise stop over in Pakistan in December 2015 on his way from a visit to Russia. But this effort to normalise ties too failed when terrorists struck the Pathankot air force station in January 2016 within days of Modi’s visit.

The sentencing of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a Pakistani military court in April last year and frequent violations of a 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control, resulting in civilian casualties, has further soured relations between the neighbours.

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