Imran Khan opts for austere oath-taking ceremony, decides against inviting foreign personalities

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman and prime minister-designate Imran Khan has decided against inviting foreign dignitaries and celebrities to his planned oath-taking ceremony, instead opting for a simple event, DawnNewsTVreported on Thursday.

The PTI, having bagged 115 NA seats and after securing the support of key allies and roping in several independent winners, looks set to form the next government, with its chairman in pole position to become the next PM of Pakistan.

To celebrate the fulfillment of Khan’s long-held wish to become the premier, the party had initially planned to invite several foreign personalities, with the names of Indian PM Narendra Modi, Bollywood superstar Amir Khan and cricket legends Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavasker and Navjot Singh Sidhu all in the mix.

However, in an apparent change of heart today, Khan has opted against a fancy ceremony. “The PTI chairman has directed to stage the oath-taking event with austerity,” PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said. “He will take his oath in a simple ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr(President House).”

“It has been decided that no foreign personalities will be invited to the ceremony — it will be a completely national event. Only a few close friends of Imran Khan will be invited.”

“There will be no show of extravagance at the event,” added Chaudhry.

A day earlier on Wednesday, Chaudhry had told reporters that the party had asked the Foreign Office to apprise its leadership regarding extending invitation to the heads of states and foreign leaders of different countries especially in view of the paucity of time. “We are awaiting response of the Fore­ign Office,” he had said.

Better relations with India

Soon after realising that the PTI had achieved a comfortable position to form a government at the Centre, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, Khan in his victory speech on July 26 had expressed the hope of building better relations with India, stating that better relations between Pakistan and India would be “good for all of us”.

He had claimed that he had more friends in India than any other Pakistani leader had. He also called for resolution of core issues between the two countries, including the Kashmir dispute, for meaningful progress in ties. He said that if the Indian leadership was ready, Islamabad, too, was ready to improve ties with New Delhi.

Legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gawaskar used to describe Khan as his younger brother and enjoyed a very cordial relationship with him. Gawaskar is a player to whom Khan — one of the fastest bowlers of his time — dismissed on a number of occasion in different test matches.

Likewise, Kapil Dev is one of the world class all-rounders among the group of four professional cricketers in the 1980s. Others were Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Sir Richard Hadley. Although they were arch-rivals professionally but outside the stadium they were good friends.

Indian superstars such as Amitabh Bachan and Aamir Khan as well as the late Princess of Wales Diana and other stars had attended Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital fund-raising ceremonies held in Pakistan as well as abroad.

Recently, the three famous Khans of Bollywood — Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan — had felicitated the cricketer-turned politician on his success and even expressed their desire to attend his oath-taking ceremony.