Quick Edit | Will Modi, won’t he?

An invitation to Imran Khan for the swearing-in ceremony could give Modi the high ground in global perception

Will Narendra Modi invite his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan to his swearing-in ceremony for a second term as Prime Minister? In 2014, Modi had asked Khan’s predecessor Nawaz Sharif to attend. It was a goodwill gesture. This time, it’s a tough question. The Indian Air Force struck deep in Pakistan as part of the “muh tod jawaab" (jaw-breaking response) promised by Modi in response to the Pulwama terror attack. Pakistan found frequent mention in his election campaign as an enemy. On the day of his victory, Pakistan test-fired a ballistic missile with a nuke-delivery range of 1,500 km. Few think it would be aimed at anyone other than India.

Khan has been making reconciliatory noises, even suggesting that a Modi victory would help restart peace talks. Many believe a rightist leader here, and a military-backed one there, would be best placed to forge a peace deal. Modi, while tough on Pakistan, is also a leader full of surprises. Regardless of periodic sabre-rattling, it’s possible that he could do something dramatic vis-à-vis Pakistan. An invitation could send a “reset" signal for bilateral ties and give Modi the high ground in global perception.