Sharif pledges to pursue normalcy in ties with India

Sharif pledges to pursue normalcy in ties with India

Unveiling Pakistan’s foreign policy roadmap, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday vowed to “progressively pursue” normalcy in ties with India while actively seeking solutions to outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

Listing his government’s foreign policy priorities a day after assuming office, Sharif in a message sent to the heads of all Pakistani missions, said neighbours will be the focus of “immediate attention”.

“Unless the region is peaceful, our efforts for growth and development will not meet with success,” he said.

“With India, the prime minister stressed the need to progressively pursue normalcy in our bilateral relations, while actively seeking solutions for all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir,” said a statement issued by the foreign office.

Sharif, 63, who was sworn in for a record third term as premier on Thursday had signalled even before the May 11 general election that he intended to work on improving relations with India.

He has said that he worked hard for detente with India before former military ruler Pervez Musharraf deposed him in 1999.

“We’ll pick the threads where we left. We want to move toward better relations with India, to resolve the remaining issues through peaceful means, including that of Kashmir,” Sharif told the media recently. During the poll campaign, Sharif had vowed to revive the Indo-Pak peace process which was interrupted in 1999 by Musharraf. He had started the peace process with then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

In his message to the Pakistani envoys, Sharif stressed the importance of developing regional consensus on supporting a stable government and peace in Afghanistan.

“He affirmed that a policy of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation will be pursued,” the statement said.

On relations with the US, Sharif noted that the two countries have “many areas of common interest”.

He said: “We will build on convergence and wherever there are divergences, we will work to try to minimize and remove such divergence.”

Sharif said his government will develop a comprehensive strategy and national consensus on terrorism in consultation with political parties, security forces, media and civil society.

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