HotSpot: Oaths and swearing-ins
By : Bikram Vohra
In real terms Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faces more flak for accepting Mr.Modi’s invitation to his oath taking ceremony. Though one does not expect any major breakthrough it is at least a step in the right direction. Paradoxically, the words oath and swearing ins can be negative. Let us hope that they are not.
Although there are elements on Indian TV who are peeved about the courtesy against the backdrop of the decapitation of two Indian soldiers earlier in the week, this gruesome non soldierly act is mutually exclusive from two leaders trying to bury a rusty hatchet.
Yes, the summits between these nations have been usually little hills, providing more landslides than firm holds. In this case security will be a nightmare but it is worth doing.
So, every possible exchange in a cordial atmosphere should be encouraged. This is not to belittle the deaths on the border or the acts of terrorism but get to have them ended.
The Vajpayee bus has got its tank refilled and that journey begins again with the first gust of exhaust, rickety, unsure, but on the move.
For Modi, a rejection of the invitation would have been egg on his face. That it has been accepted makes it a feather in his cap at a very early stage of the game. Few can cavil with that.
It was a calculated move and it paid off. The only part I don’t understand is sections of the Indian media welcoming Modi’s gesture. What has inviting Nawaz Sharif got to do with Indian muslims and why should they be grateful? This is just the sort of writing that wrecks every peace initiative.
Sharif will be accompanied by Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz.
The Pakistan Foreign Office had urged Sharif to attend the ceremony, saying that the bitterness toward Pakistan shown during the election campaign in India would subside after the formation of a new government in New Delhi.
That makes sense and shows a spirit of co-operation missing for a long while. It is also the first time that Pakistan has shown initiative. The lighthearted would say that this trip would open up the cricket series and don’t under-estimate that element in the equation.
They have one night to make a pact, like each other and clear the air. Will the Modi charisma be enough? Will Sharif’s intent be made of stern stuff?
Why second guess them? Sometimes there is an instant chemistry and we can just hope these two make a reasonable road map.
Khurshid Ahmed Shah, leader of opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly, had also urged Sharif to accept the invitation in the larger interest of the people of the two countries.
Apart from Sharif, the dignitaries who will attend include Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Bangladesh Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury. Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam is also attending the ceremony.
It is the first time in India’s history that leaders from neighboring countries have been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of a prime minister.
Just let’s hope there is no swearing at the swearing in.