Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to the country for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit, Dawn reported.
The last SAARC Summit was held in Kathmandu in 2014. In November 2016, the summit was to be held in Islamabad, but was postponed after India pulled out from the event. India had backed out in the aftermath of an attack on an Army facility at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. India had said that the attack was orchestrated by a Pakistan-based militant group. Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh followed suit and refused to participate in the summit.
The date and venue for the next summit is yet to be decided.
Faisal, addressing the Kashmir Conference in Islamabad, said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two. “We fought a war with India, relations cannot be fixed quickly,” Faisal said, according to Dawn.
The development comes a day before the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor which will provide Indian Sikh pilgrims an easy passage to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan. The gurdwara is located at the site where Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru, died in 1539, and is one of the holiest shrines in Sikhism.
Khan will lay the foundation stone for the construction of the corridor on Wednesday. Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj cited prior commitments to decline an invitation, and deputed Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri to attend the event.
Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday crossed the Attari-Wagah border into Pakistan to attend the ceremony, though Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has refused to attend. Sidhu had faced severe criticism in August for hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in August when he visited the country to attend Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony. A case of sedition was also filed against Sidhu for hugging Bajwa.