Islamabad: Pakistani media reports on Friday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was consulting his close aides and other ‘stakeholders' (read army and security establishment) on whether to accept India's unprecedented invite to the swearing-in ceremony of prime minister-designate Narendra Modi.
Although a formal announcement was supposed to be made on Friday, official sources said the decision will now be taken on Saturday after taking the army and security establishment into confidence.
If Nawaz Sharif visits Delhi, a bilateral meeting between him and Modi will take place on May 27, sources said.
A source in Pakistan's High Commission in New Delhi disclosed that they had received ‘positive signals' from the government so far and it was likely that Sharif would respond to the invitation positively.
The delay in the formal announcement is apparently attributed to concerns expressed by the country's security establishment, Pakistani media reports said.
Options such as sending Punjab Chief Minister Shabaz Sharif or Prime Minister's Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to India are also being considered if Nawaz opts out of the visit.
Meanwhile, India is "patiently" awaiting Nawaz Sharif's response to the invitation as "short duration bilateral meetings" are being set up with all the other SAARC Heads of Government and State who have decided to attend the ceremony on May 26.
"We are patient people" and will wait for the outcome of that process undertaken by Pakistan for decision making, the spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said when asked about the delay in Sharif's response to the invite.
Asked about the meeting of Modi with SAARC leaders, the spokesperson said there will be "short duration bilateral meetings" between the Prime Minister and the visiting dignitaries which will be attended by restricted delegation from each side.
He also said after the swearing-in on May 26, the Prime Minister will host a banquet for the leaders.
Asked if opposition leaders of the SAARC countries were also invited, he said only eight invitations were extended which included leaders of seven SAARC country and to the Prime Minister of Mauritius.
"It is the privilege and prerogative of the leader of the delegation to choose who will be in his/her delegation," the Spokesperson said, and referred to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's decision to invite Chief Minister of
Tamil-dominated Northern Provinces, C V Wigneswaran, to join his delegation to India.
However, Wigneswaran is understood to have rejected Rajapaksa's call.
Asked if the ministry has received the final list of the delegations from the SAARC countries, the Spokesperson said it was "work in progress".
He also said it is for the first time, entire leadership of the South Asia has been invited to a swearing-in ceremony of a Prime Minister in India