- Imran Khan's swearing-in as Pakistan's Prime Minister is on August 11
- Reports had suggested that he wanted to invite PM Modi for the event
- Imran Khan's party emerged as the largest party in the July 25 Pak polls
Imran Khan, the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, or PTI, set to be sworn-in as Prime Minister, has decided against inviting foreign leaders and called off plans to invite Indian celebrities as well. He will take oath on August 11.
A statement by his party PTI attributed the pruning of the guest list to the cricketer-turned-politician's decision to arrange the swearing-in ceremony "with austerity" and "without any show of extravagance".
Earlier this week, PTI leaders had suggested that the 65-year-old wanted to invite SAARC leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his oath ceremony but the Foreign Office wasn't sure how it would pan out.
Imran Khan's party had also announced that the legendary cricketer had invited actor Aamir Khan and former cricketers Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu. Mr Sidhu promptly accepted the invitation, describing Imran Khan as "a man of character", a "Greek God" and someone who is "trustworthy".
Today, senior PTI leader Faisal Javed claimed there were no invites to be accepted by celebrities such as Mr Sidhu.
"There is no truth in reports circulating in media regarding the invitations being sent to foreign players or actors," Faisal Javed said in a statement. "The ceremony will be completely national in its facade and essence," the statement said.
A PTI spokesman had confirmed the invitations earlier.
Mr Sidhu hasn't commented on Pakistan's turnabout on the invite that he had accepted.
Former diplomat KC Singh told NDTV that he felt sorry for Navjot Singh Sidhu.
But, he stressed, the about-face did not look good for the next Pakistan PM either.
"It does not show up very well for Imran Khan's handling of things. They haven't got their systems in place," KC Singh said.
Desh Ratan Nigam, a lawyer and member of the RSS, the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP, speculated that "either the army prevailed or backroom leaders said no to the leaders".
Back in Pakistan, Imran Khan's party says they were just holding "a simple and austere oath-taking ceremony completely national in its facade and essence" because they were custodians of tax-payers money.
In his victory speech before all the results were out, Imran Khan had pledged to take austerity measures to save taxpayers' money and declared he would be "ashamed" to stay in the sprawling Prime Minister's House.
But local media reports in Islamabad indicate that Mr Khan has cancelled his plans to stay put in his house after a security audit pointed that it would require a massive upgrade to secure the area.
A news report in Pakistan newspaper Dawn says the PM-in-waiting had agreed to shift to a house in Islamabad's Ministers' Enclave.
Again, the newspaper said he initially opted to move into an apartment block but settled for a bungalow after officials underlined that it would not be possible to accommodate the security and other official paraphernalia.
PM Modi had called Imran Khan to congratulate him on his party's victory in the general elections in Pakistan and hoped that "Pakistan and India will work to open a new chapter in bilateral ties". Imran Khan in his victory speech had also said that better relations between Pakistan and India would be "good for all of us".
Ties between the two countries have been strained in recent years over terror strikes by Pakistan-based groups, especially the attack on an army camp in Kashmir's Uri, after which India carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.