Will be “very happy” to have Dr. Singh at swearing-in ceremony: Sharif
Soon after Nawaz Sharif’s party emerged as the leading force in Pakistan elections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose ancestors come from Gah in Pakistan’s Punjab, wrote to “Dear Mian Saheb” offering to work closely with him. On Monday, Pakistan Prime Minister-designate Nawaz Sharif said he would be “very happy” to have Dr. Singh at his swearing-in ceremony. “I will be very happy to extend that invitation. If they will come, it will be a great pleasure for me and for Pakistan,” he said in an interaction with foreign journalists at his palatial house in Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore.
When specifically asked by an Indian journalist if he would invite Dr. Singh for the function, Mr. Sharif said: “I had a call from him [Singh] yesterday. We had a long chat on the phone and then he extended an invitation to me and I extended an invitation to him. He originally belongs to a district in Pakistan.”
Irrespective of whether Dr. Singh puts in a presence at the swearing-in ceremony, Mr. Sharif is hopeful of a prime ministerial visit from India during his tenure. In several of his election rally speeches, the two-time premier flagged former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bus journey to Lahore as a major achievement of his administration. He also reiterated his intent to pick up the threads of the India-Pakistan relationship from where he had left it in 1999.
During the campaign, Mr. Sharif had vowed to revive the peace process which was interrupted in 1999 by the then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
Traders in Punjab are one group looking forward to Sharif’s coming to power. They hope the businessman will focus on boosting trade across the border.