imran khan may invite PM Modi to oath ceremony, says his party

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Imran Khan's party - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI - is considering inviting leaders of SAARC countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his oath taking ceremony as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, a party official said today.

Mr Khan's party has emerged as the single largest party in Pakistan's national assembly after the July 25 general election in the country. However, it is still short of numbers to form the government on its own.

Mr Khan, 65, said last evening that he would take oath as Pakistan's prime minister on August 11.

"The core committee of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is considering inviting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) heads including Mr Modi and a decision on this is expected shortly," a leader from Imran Khan's party told news agency PTI (Press Trust of India).

He also termed PM Modi's telephone call to Imran Khan on his victory in the 2018 elections a welcoming sign to begin a "new chapter" in relations between the two countries.

Fawad Chaudhry, Spokesperson for Imran Khan's party, also did not rule out inviting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the swearing in ceremony on August 11. "A decision about it will be taken by the party in consultation with the foreign ministry in coming days," he said.

On Monday, PM Modi called Imran Khan to congratulate him on his party's victory in the general elections in Pakistan and hoped that "Pakistan and India will work to open a new chapter in bilateral ties".

Mr Khan thanked Prime Minister Modi for his wishes and emphasised that disputes should be resolved through dialogue. "Wars and bloodshed, instead of resolving disputes, lead to tragedies," Mr Khan had said, according to news agency PTI.

Mr Khan in his victory speech had also said that better relations between Pakistan and India would be "good for all of us".

"If India's leadership is ready, we are ready to improve ties with India. If you take one step forward, we will take two steps forward," he had said in his victory speech.

Ties between India and Pakistan have remained tense since the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, and worsened after the Uri terror attack by Pak-based terrorists.

Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif had travelled to Delhi to attend PM Modi's oath taking ceremony and PM Modi had made a stopover in Lahore in December 2015 to greet his counterpart on his birthday.

Ties between the two countries strained further after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016 and India's surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.

The death sentence given by a Pak military court to retired naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was kidnapped from Iran while on a business visit, further deteriorated ties between India and Pakistan.

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