Islamabad, Aug 1: The news that the new government of Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan might invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his oath-taking ceremony this month has generated an interest. After Khan's address to the nation a day after the July 25 general elections that went to his party's - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) - way where he emphasised on improving ties with India ("if India takes one step, Pakistan will take two"), the likelihood of the Indian PM getting an invite to the swearing-in of his Pakistani counterpart gave rise to positive vibes, many felt.
But will the new government of Pakistan really mean betterment of ties with India at the moment? Although the script could be identical with that of Modi's own swearing-in in 2014 when he had he invited the leaders of all the South Asian nations, including the then Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, but the goodwill that goes into it might not be as pure as it was in 2014.
In 2014, when Modi took oath and invited Sharif, the latter was also just a year old in his third prime ministerial term and it meant two almost fresh leaderships taking a renewed stance over the dented bilateral affairs between the two neighbours. In 2018, the situation is different.
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Although Khan is on the verge of taking stance as Pakistan's new PM, Modi is at the fag end of his first term and will go to the general elections in 2019 hoping to renew his mandate. If Pakistan tries to mend ways with India at this time and address its concerns over pressing issues like terror, then that would go to Modi's advantage and ahead of India's general elections, Islamabad would not do a thing that will only embolden Modi's Hindu nationalist regime. For Khan, showing a soft face to India now could annoy the hidden forces that have supposedly overworked to see him win the election this year, defeating the more independent-minded Sharif. As a starter, he certainly will not take the risk.
The possible invitation to Modi from Pakistan thus will serve nothing more than a mere photo-op. The move is all the more diplomatic because by inviting Modi at a time when the relations between the two neighbours haven't been at its best, Islamabad will put the ball in New Delhi's court. If India refuses, Pakistan could use it as an example to back its claim that it is India which is against peace. If it accepts, the Khan government will take the credit of kick-starting the relation which saw more lows than ups over the past few years.