The excuse: The ceremony will be completely national in its facade and essence
The Hush Post: In an apparent sneek-a-peek into the confusion prevailing in Pakistan even before Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan takes over charge as Prime Minister, Pakistan has categorically declined inviting any foreign leaders and guests from India to the swearing-in ceremony .
Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said that foreign heads of state have not been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly-elected prime minister. “The ceremony will be completely national in its facade and essence,” the Foreign Office statement said.
The PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had on Wednesday said that official invites would go to Khan’s friends, but on Thursday the party decided to go for an “extremely simple” and “austere” event. After consultations with the Foreign Office, he excused himself about the change of heart saying, “The PTI chairman has directed to stage the oath-taking event with austerity. He will take his oath in a simple ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr (President House), “he said.
In a complete U-turn, former cricketers Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu, who were personally requested by the cricketer-turned-politician to attend his oath-taking ceremony, aren’t invited anymore. Imran Khan’s party PTI spokesman had confirmed the invitations earlier.
“There is no truth in reports circulating in media regarding the invitations being sent to foreign players or actors,” Faisal Javed another PTI spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.
According to a news report in Pakistan’s The Dawn, PTI leaders were told by the Foreign Office that extending invitations to heads of state was a sensitive matter. During meetings between the foreign secretary and PTI leaders, the possibility of India declining the invitation also came up, with the FO suggesting that Pakistan would face embarrassment in such a situation, the report said. If India was not invited, FO officials believed that it would convince the other Saarc countries to not attend the event either.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Imran Khan’s Indian cricketer friends and a host of Bollywood celebrities were amongst the first ones to congratulate Khan on his party’s win in the General Elections.
PTI leaders had suggested earlier that Imran Khan wanted to invite SAARC leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his oath ceremony but the Foreign Office wasn’t sure.