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Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is considering inviting the leaders of SAARC countries, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to his oath-taking ceremony as the premier next month, an official of Khan’s party said on Tuesday.
The PTI, led by 65-year-old Khan, has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly after the July 25 elections but it is still short of clear majority to form the government on its own. Khan yesterday said that he would take oath as prime minister on August 11.
“The core committee of Tehreek-i-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 of Khan’s party told the media in Lahore. He also termed Modi’s telephone call to Khan on Monday night on his victory in the 2018 polls a welcome sign to begin a “new chapter” in relations between the two countries.

Spokesperson for Khan’s party Fawad Chaudhry also did not rule out inviting Modi to the swearing in ceremony. “A decision about it will be taken by the party in consultation with the Foreign Ministry in coming days,” he said.

When the Indian PM called Khan on Monday, the PTI chief thanked Modi for his wishes and emphasised that disputes should be resolved through dialogue. “Wars and bloodshed instead of resolving disputes lead to tragedies,” Khan had said.

Khan in his victory speech last week 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 on step forward we will take two steps forward,” he had said.

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif had attended Modi’s swearing in ceremony in New Delhi on May 26,2014 and the Indian premier had in December 2015 made a stopover in Lahore to greet his counterpart on his birthday.

The India-Pakistan ties nose-dived since 2016 in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups on an Indian air base and an army camp in 2016. The sentencing of an Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a military court in Pakistan in April last year further deteriorated bilateral ties. Ends

New Delhi Correspondent