Narendra Modi sworn in as India's new PM with Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif looking on

The fact that nationalist Modi will not be vulnerable to attacks from the right could help him in his dealings with Pakistan

Delhi

India’s newly elected leader will on Tuesday have an official meeting with his Pakistani counterpart amid cautious optimism on both sides of the border the two leaders can push forward their countries’ vexed and painful relationship.

A day after he was sworn in as India’s 15th prime minister, Narendra Modi will have a 30-minute meeting with Nawaz Sharif, whose decision to come to Delhi and attend the ceremony marked an historic first between the two nations.

The relationship, heavy with the weight of history, is in something of a stalemate as the two terms of India’s Congress-led government ran their course without making much progress. The 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistani militants set back any advances that had been made and added to the mutual distrust felt between two nations that have gone to war on four occasions.

Many in India believe the Hindu nationalist Mr Modi, who earlier his month won a landslide election victory, will have more capacity to deal with Pakistan as he will not be vulnerable to attacks from the right. His counterpart, who last year was elected for the third time as premier, is also seen as a nationalist and a religious conservative.

Mr Sharif was one of eight foreign leaders who attended Mr Modi’s beguiling swearing-in ceremony against the backdrop of Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of India’s president. After Mr Modi issued the invitation to Mr Sharif and the other leaders of the nations that make up the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, there was intense debate inside Pakistan as to whether or not he should accept.

 

As it was, Mr Sharif decided the potential benefits outweighed the risks. “This is a chance to reach out to each other. Both governments have a strong mandate,” he said in an interview with India’s NDTV television channel. “Both countries should rid the region of instability and security that has plagued us for decades.”

Nobody thinks India and Pakistan are set to become best friends anytime soon. India believes Pakistan is doing insufficient to control militants and has moved too slowly to bring to justice those responsible for the three-day assault on Mumbai that left more than 160 people dead.

Pakistan, meanwhile, accuses India of refusing to want to address the issue of Kashmir, the Muslim majority territory which both countries claim and over which there have been repeated clashes and bloodshed.

But some believe that Tuesday’s meeting between the two premiers, when they are likely to focus on boosting trade, could provide an opportunity to size each other up.

Neelam Deo, an analyst and director of the Indian Council on Global Relations, said she expected no major breakthrough on Tuesday. “I don’t think there is going to be anything substantial from the first meeting,” she said. “But I do think they will take the measure of each other.”

Mr Sharif took several days before responding to Mr Modi’s invitation to attend Monday’s event and there were many in both countries who thought he should not come. As it was, Monday marked the first time that a leader from either side had attended the swearing-in of a premier from the other country.

Hassan Askari Rizvi, a political scientist based in Lahore, said many in Pakistan believed Mr Modi was someone they could do business with. He said there were still concerns about Mr Modi’s record in Gujarat, where hundreds of Muslims were killed in 2002, and over some of the statements he made about Pakistan during his election campaign.

However, many there remember efforts made by a previous Indian prime minister from Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who in 1999 famously took a bus to Lahore as part of a peace initiative. His counterpart in Pakistan on that visit was Mr Sharif.

“There is a lot of hope that he can help bring change,” said Mr Rizvi. “There is hope that the dialogue between the two countries could start again in a couple of months.”

Taking his oath in Hindu, Mr Modi, 63, the son of a tea salesman who secured the biggest mandate in India for 30 years after a campaign when he pushed a message of growth and development, said he would “maintain the integrity of India”. 

In a message posted on the website of the prime minister’s office, Mr Modi said he believed he could work with India’s citizens to create a “glorious future”. “Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development,” he said.

Also taking the oath of office with Mr Modi, in front of an audience that included Bollywood actors, leading industrialists and foreign diplomats, were the 45 ministers who will make up his government.

Among the senior positions, Arun Jaitely will take on defence and finance, Shushma Swaraj is lined up to become India’s foreign minister, while Rajnath Singh, the head of the BJP, will become home minister. Seven women ministers have been named in the cabinet.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little