Islamabad wants good relations with New Delhi, but “durable peace” is not possible until the Kashmir dispute is resolved, Pakistan’s newly-sworn in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday, PTI reported.
He made the statement in his first speech after replacing Imran Khan as the prime minister. On Monday, 174 members of Pakistan’s 342-seat National Assembly voted in his favour, a day after Khan was removed in a no-confidence vote.
Sharif said that Pakistan will continue to give “diplomatic and moral support” to the people of Kashmir. “We will raise voice for Kashmiris brothers and sisters at every forum,” he said.
The Pakistan prime minister said that he wanted his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to realise that poverty, unemployment and disease existed on both sides of the border.
“Why do we want our coming generations to suffer?” he asked, according to the Dawn. “Come, let’s resolve the Kashmir issue in line with United Nations resolutions and Kashmiris’ expectations, so that we are able to end poverty on both sides of the border.”
Meanwhile, Modi congratulated Sharif on being elected as the prime minister.
“India desires peace and stability in a region free of terror, so that we can focus on our development challenges and ensure the well-being and prosperity of our people,” he wrote on Twitter.
Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since terrorist attacks at the Pathankot air base in January 2016 and on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama in February 2019.
India’s moves to remove the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the erstwhile state into two Union Territories also strained ties between the two countries.
‘Democratic Pakistan critical to US’
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki on Monday said that while the United States did not support one political party over another, it supported the “peaceful upholding of constitutional democratic principles” in Pakistan, The News International reported.
Psaki said that a democratic Pakistan was critical to Washington’s interests. She, however, did not say whether US President Joe Biden would speak to Sharif over a phone call.
“In terms of future calls, I don’t have anything to predict at this point and time, obviously, we stay in close touch with them at a range of levels,” she said.
Imran Khan and Biden did not hold a phone conversation after the latter became the United States.
Meanwhile, Beijing has said that the political change in Pakistan would not affect its bilateral ties with the country, The Hindu reported.
“I want to stress that no matter how the political situation may change in Pakistan, China will unswervingly follow the Pakistan policy of friendship,” spokesperson of the country’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, said on Monday.