Pakistan’s Sharif to attend swearing-in ceremony of Modi as India’s new prime minister amid fear of hawkish policies.
A day after being sworn in as India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in India’s capital, New Delhi.
“PM underlined our concerns relating to terrorism. It was conveyed that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory and territory under its control from being used for terrorism against India,” Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told reporters after the meeting.
Modi also said the two countries could immediately move towards normalising trade ties that have been held hostage to their political differences.
Sharif was one of six regional leaders who attended the inauguration ceremony in New Delhi on Monday evening for Modi.
India’s new prime minister also met with leaders of Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Mauritius and Nepal in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Modi decided last week to invite Sharif and other South Asian leaders to his inauguration.
In an interview with India’s NDTV, Sharif, who won Pakistan’s election last year, said Modi’s arrival in power after a landslide election victory represented a “great opportunity” for the countries to open a new chapter in relations.
“This is a chance to reach out to each other. Both governments have a strong mandate,” he said.
Peace process threads
Sharif promised to pick up the threads of a failed peace process which went on during his second term in office – coinciding with the last time Modi’s BJP was in power in India.
In 1999, AB Vajpayee, then India’s prime minister, rode a bus to the Pakistani city of Lahore to sign an accord with Sharif, but three months later the neighbours nearly went to war over Kashmir.
In other developments, Modi announced his new cabinet on Tuesday, with Sushma Swaraj, the most senior woman in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), named foreign minister.
Arun Jaitley, a lawyer who has emerged as one of Modi’s chief lieutenants, was handed the finance and defence portfolios, while Rajnath Singh, the BJP president, is the new home affairs minister.
Modi himself is in charge of space and nuclear energy along with “personnel, public grievances and pensions”.
Modi named 46 ministers including himself – 25 fewer than in the outgoing government headed by the Congress party.