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Joint Statement by Pakistan citizens groups, on the Invitation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend Modi’s oath-taking Ceremony

23 May 2014

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Karachi, 23rd May 2014

Joint Statement issued to the Press by Pakistan Civil Societies Forum (Sindh Chapter), Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Secular Forum, on the Invitation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the oath-taking Ceremony of Narendra Modi in New Delhi as Prime Minister of India.

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Coming as it does in the wake of India’s invitation to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as the new Prime Minister of India in New Delhi on 26th May, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson’s statement re-iterating that “Pakistan wants uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue with India to resolve all the issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir’, and the assertion that “It will be a mistake to let this opportunity go; we need to see beyond today”, is most welcome. In this context, we also fully endorse the statement of the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, PPP’s Syed Khursheed Shah that “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must attend the ceremony, as the Prime Minister’s visit will ease the tensions between Pakistan and India.” We express our full support and urge upon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to formally accept the invitation and attend the ceremony in Delhi as the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

We in Pakistan have to accept the truth that Narendra Modi has been democratically elected by the people of India to lead them as their Prime Minister and there is no option for the government of Pakistan but to recognize Narendra Modi as such and dealing with him in that capacity. On the other hand, whatever might have been Modi’s views and perceptions vis a vis Pakistan before and during the Indian election campaign, the invitation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should be taken as reflecting Modi’s desire to establish a rapport with his Pakistani counterpart. This in itself is a welcome development. In this context, we are happy to see that both the government and the main opposition party PPP appear to be on the same page as far as Prime Minister’s participation in the ceremony in Delhi is concerned.

It is our considered view that there is no room in the future for jingoistic slogan-mongering and fire-spitting in support of continued tension and conflict in the subcontinent. The collective voice of hundreds of millions of Pakistanis and Indians who are silently yearning for a relationship of mutual trust, cooperation and goodwill between our two countries, can no longer be suppressed, because it is the most essential prerequisite for the unhindered progress and development of our two countries and the betterment of the quality of life of the millions of Pakistanis and Indians who live in conditions of abject poverty and misery.

We appeal to the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India to use this rare opportunity to take a solemn pledge in Delhi to begin with the immediate implementation of all the provisions of existing agreements between our two countries - easing of visa regime, opening of all land and sea routes, lifting of restrictions on exchange of information including newspapers, books and tv channels, etc, - along with the introduction of other already agreed Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).

We hope that by the time this statement appears in the press, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will have made up his mind to attend the ceremony in Delhi.