India has left out the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan from Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, while the members, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Bhutan, of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) have been invited.
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India’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Pakistan not being on the list. In February, just a month before the 2019 Lok Sabha Election, Pakistan and India were on the verge of a full-out war. Following a pre-emptive action by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Balakot, India and Pakistan’s air force were involved in a dogfight. Moreover, Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) had taken responsibility for the Pulwama attack in Kashmir which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF soldiers.
A government spokesman said this is in line with the Indian Government’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy. Political analysts describe this policy as a striking feature of Modi government’s diplomatic approach. After winning the 2014 Lok Sabha Election, the government had invited all nations from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Maldives, Pakistan and Afghanistan for the swear-in ceremony. The then Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif had attended the ceremony.
In 2015, Modi had paid a surprise visit to Pakistan and held a meeting with Sharif in Lahore. However, following the 2016 Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani’s encounter and Pathankot terror attack, relations between the two countries took a down turn. Pakistan started to take potshots at India and raised the Kashmir issue in every international platform. Soon, India diplomatically isolated Islamabad and began to strengthen ties with neighboring China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
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Furthermore, with the recent twist and turn in events in the past couple of months, political analysts are not shy to deny that the Modi-led BJP, in fact did greatly benefit from an anti-Pakistani and nationalism rhetoric. But the Pakistani PM continues to push for dialogue and even called up the Indian PM to congratulate him the election win.
However, this time around, India has clearly snubbed its nuclear-powered neighbor. New Delhi is playing it tough and has to come up with a good policy to keep Pakistan in tact.