ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday stressed the need to improve Pakistan’s relations with neighboring countries, including India and Afghanistan, to pursue more effective diplomacy on the world stage and raise the country’s international status.
The ex-premier’s statement comes amid Pakistan’s frosty bilateral relations with the neighboring states, particularly India and Afghanistan, over a spectrum of issues, including a protracted territorial dispute and cross-border militancy.
Pakistan severed diplomatic and economic ties with India in August 2019 after New Delhi stripped the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special constitutional status. Its relationship with Kabul is also at the lowest ebb following a surge in suicide attacks in Pakistan which have been blamed on a militant network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), whose leadership is believed to be operating from Afghanistan. These mounting tensions between the two neighbors have also led to the deportation of Afghan nationals from the country due to security reason.
In his past tenures as the prime minister, Sharif tried to improve Pakistan’s relations with its arch-rival and nuclear-armed neighbor, India, for which he also faced criticism from his political opponents. His recent statement is viewed as significant since he is widely believed to be seeking the position of prime minister in the wake of the next general elections slated for February 8.
“How is it possible to achieve global status if your neighbors are upset with you, or you with them,” he questioned while addressing the party’s parliamentary board meeting in Lahore.
“We have to mend our relations with India and Afghanistan,” he continued. “Strengthen them further with Iran and China.”
Sharif said the government should not just focus on economic obligations but display its performance in every sector.
He maintained the country had done quite well during his past tenures in all the fields, including defense and foreign affairs.
Referring to his decision in May 1998 to test nuclear weapons in response to India, he said his administration had bolstered the country’s security.
Sharif recalled that two Indian prime ministers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 and Narendra Modi in 2015, had visited Pakistan during his past tenures.
“Did anyone visit before them,” he asked.
The ex-premier returned to Pakistan from London in October after ending a self-imposed exile of about four years to contest the upcoming polls. He will spearhead his party’s election campaign and contend for the top political office in Pakistan for the fourth time.
Source : Arab News