|Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi pays his respects at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat
ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
By NIRMALA GEORGE, AP, May 26, 2014
NEW DELHI (AP) — Pakistan’s prime minister arrived in the capital of his country’s archrival Monday to attend the inauguration of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, a historic moment that could signal a thaw in relations between the often hostile neighbors.
Modi’s inauguration is the first to which India invited heads of state from across South Asia. The leaders of Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Maldives, Nepal and Afghanistan were expected to attend, and Bangladesh was to be represented by the speaker of its parliament.
India’s President Pranab Mukherjee will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Modi and his Cabinet ministers at an inaugural event to be held at the presidential palace.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted Modi’s invitation on Saturday. His presence at the inauguration signals an easing of tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors, analysts said.
Pakistan and India have a history of uneasy relations and have fought
three wars over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir since their
independence from Britain in 1947. Modi and Sharif are scheduled to hold
formal talks on Tuesday.
Relations between Pakistan and India froze after an attack on Mumbai,
India’s fianancial hub, in 2008 in which Pakistani militants killed 166
is likely to insist Tuesday that Pakistan expedite investigations into
the Mumbai attack and put its perpetrators on trial. New Delhi would
also demand that Islamabad take action against Islamic militant groups
operating out of Pakistani territory to prevent further terror attacks
on India. Other major problems relate to the future of Kashmir.
and his Bharatiya Janata Party won a resounding victory in the
weekslong general election that ended this month. Modi has promised to
revitalize the economy and restore India as a leading global power.
Caption: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif waves as he arrives to attend the swearing in ceremony of India’s prime minister elect Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, Monday, May 26, 2014. Sharif arrived in the capital of his country’s archrival Monday to attend the inauguration of his Indian counterpart, a historic moment that could signal a thaw in relations between the often hostile neighbors. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
past few years have seen economic growth plummeting coupled with
runaway inflation and a decline in exports. The former Congress
party-run government had in recent years been paralyzed by a series of
corruption scandals, internal feuding and an inability to deal with the
stumbling economy and deep-rooted problems with poverty, infrastructure
In an early indication that he plans to streamline
government functioning, Modi’s office said in a statement that several
ministries, especially those dealing with infrastructure, were being
combined to make them more efficient and to reduce bureaucratic red
Modi won the election with a strong mandate that analysts
say will give him a free hand in choosing his priorities without being
constrained by coalition partners. The BJP won 282 seats in the
543-member lower house of Parliament, well ahead of the 272 halfway mark
that it would require for conducting business.
his campaign, Modi promised that if he was voted to office his goals
would be good governance, job creation and rooting out corruption, a
message that struck a chord with millions of people who voted for the
BJP in large numbers.
Huge billboards with Modi’s picture have
been erected outside the BJP’s office in New Delhi, while enthusiastic
supporters, waving the party’s saffron-and-green flag, shouted slogans
hailing the new prime minister.
Caption: Indian Prime Minister-designate and Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi pays his respects at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, in New Delhi, India, Monday, May 26, 2014. Modi, 63, will be sworn-in as the India’s Prime Minister on Monday evening by President Pranab Mukherjee at the forecourt of the Indian presidential palace. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)’
“It’s an occasion for celebration
for the people of the entire country who have such high expectations
from the new leader,” said Anupam Kher, Bollywood actor and longtime
supporter of the BJP.
Security has been tightened across New
Delhi ahead of the ceremony with more than 7,000 police deployed near
the sprawling presidential palace, said Mukesh Meena, a police
commissioner in New Delhi.
Sharpshooters have been positioned on
the roofs of nearby government office buildings and security guards in
plainclothes posted at key places, police said. Roads leading to the
palace in the heart of the city would be closed to traffic five hours
before the ceremony as a security measure, Meena said.