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Invite to Pakistan for Modi's swearing-in has RSS blessings

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi's invite to the heads of governments of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc)-member countries has the stamp of approval of not only President Pranab Mukherjee but also the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and external affairs ministry sources were confident that heads of state or governments of the seven Saarc nations, including Pakistan, would attend the oath-taking ceremony of Modi and his Cabinet colleagues on May 26.

Sources said people who had mooted the idea of inviting all Saarc member states were initially apprehensive on how the RSS might react to an invite being sent to Pakistan. But the top Sangh leadership "blessed" the proposal. The RSS, sources say, was unequivocal in its support.

The Sangh likened it to Hindu sanskriti wherein even a neighbour with whom one has bad relations is invited to a wedding at home. "We might have sour relations with our neighbour but we would still invite them to a wedding at home. This is our culture," a BJP source said, adding that it was up to Pakistan whether to honour the invite or not.

However, the BJP is confident that Pakistan would be represented at the highest level.

MEA sources said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Thinley have already confirmed their attendance. Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives are likely to confirm by Thursday.

Official sources said they weren't sure at what level Pakistan would be represented but its President Mamnoon Hussain might attend.

Government sources said they were awake to the possibility that Hussain might like to visit his birthplace Agra. Hussain, in an interview after taking over as the President in September 2013, had said he would love to visit his birthplace to see the Taj Mahal. Hussain was born in Agra in 1940. His family migrated to Karachi in 1947.

First Published: Thu, May 22 2014. 00:19 IST