India will not invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the swearing-in of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, two Indian government sources said, suggesting any early warming in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours is unlikely. Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, and came close to a fourth in February after a suicide bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group killed at least 40 Indian police in the contested Kashmir region. Narendra Modi begins his second term as prime minister on Thursday after a convincing election victory which political analysts say was helped by his handling of that tension with Pakistan. The Indian government said in a statement on Monday the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan – all members, with India, of the little-known Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) – had been invited to the swearing-in. “This is in line with government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” a government spokesman said. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius have also been invited. But two sources in Indian’s foreign ministry said Pakistan will not be on the list, without providing further information. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi suggested the reason was India’s internal politics, after Modi had made “Pakistan bashing” the central theme of his election campaign. “To expect that he will get rid of his narrative and invite the entire opposition to criticise him, it was not possible,” Qureshi
Islamist protesters blocked roads in Pakistan’s major cities, opposing a Supreme Court decision to acquit Asia Bibi for blasphemy allegations. “They all three deserve to be killed,” TLP co-founder Muhammad Afzal Qadri told a protest in Lahore. “Either their security, their driver, or their cook should kill them.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has received official pledges of a six-billion-dollar loan to his country from Saudi Arabia, whose top leadership is involved in an international crisis of credibility over possible involvement in the killing of a Saudi dissident. Saudi Arabia pledged three billion dollars in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to another three billion dollars in deferred payments for oil imports, to Pakistan, the Pakistani government announced in a statement on Tuesday.