Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has asked for “serious and real conversations” with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on “burning topics like Kashmir,” which are viewed as conciliatory in Delhi. In addition, he stated that his nation has learned its lesson after three wars with India that “only brought more suffering, poverty, and unemployment” and that it now seeks peace with its neighbour.
In an interview with Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV, Sharif requested the intervention of UAE ruler Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to facilitate talks between India and Pakistan. He stated that he has pledged his “word of honour” that he will communicate with “sincerity of purpose” with the Indian side.
Noting that India and Pakistan were nuclear powers, the Pakistani prime minister inquired, “Who would survive to tell the tale if war breaks out?”
After Pakistan’s ruling party tweeted the interview, Sharif’s PML(N), his office took a harder stance, stating that he has always held that Pakistan and India must resolve their bilateral difficulties, particularly the core issue of Jammu & Kashmir, through negotiation and peaceful methods.
“My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Modi is that we must get down to the table and engage in meaningful and sincere discussions in order to settle our most pressing concerns, such as Kashmir. Sharif stated in an interview that it is up to us to live quietly and make progress or to argue and squander time and resources.
“Three wars with India have only exacerbated the populace’s suffering, poverty, and unemployment. “We have learned our lesson, and we want to live in peace with India if we can address our legitimate issues,” he said.
“India is our neighbouring nation, and we are neighbours. Even if we did not choose to be neighbours, we will be there indefinitely, and it is up to us whether we choose to coexist peacefully and advance or argue and waste time and resources. This depends on us,” he stated.
In ref. to PM Shehbaz Sharif’s interview to Al Arabiya, the spokesman of the PM Office has said the PM has consistently maintained that Pakistan & India must resolve their bilateral issues, especially the core issue of Jammu & Kashmir, through dialogue and peaceful means. 1/3
— Prime Minister’s Office (@PakPMO) January 17, 2023
Sharif also brought up the issue of Kashmir and stated, “Pakistan desires peace, but what is occurring in Kashmir must cease.” In Kashmir, he asserted, “every day, egregious violations of human rights are occurring,” reaffirming the Pakistani position that India has rejected.
Sharif stated that the Kashmiri people deserved “whatever semblance of autonomy was granted to them in the Constitution under Article 370, which was repealed in August 2019.”
Sharif also brought up another issue that has exacerbated the rift between the two nations, alleging that “minorities over there are being badly mistreated” – an accusation India has frequently rejected.
The combination of the Pakistani prime minister’s words and China’s decision to allow the LeT deputy leader to be designated as a global terrorist is viewed as a significant signal to Delhi. India has welcomed the designation but has remained silent over Sharif’s remarks. Before taking action, Delhi would closely monitor the relationship between Pakistan’s civilian administration and military.
“I won’t get into specifics, but suffice it to say that this must cease so that a message can be sent around the world that India is ready for negotiations and that we are more than ready,” he said.
Sharif stated that both nations possess engineers, physicians, and skilled labourers. “We wish to utilise these treasures for wealth and to bring peace to the region in order for both nations to flourish… Pakistan is averse to wasting money on bombs and ammo. Who will survive to relate what happened if, God forbid, a nuclear war breaks out?” he said.
Sharif referred to the ruler of the UAE as a “brother of Pakistan” with “excellent connections with India.”
“He can play a crucial role in bringing the two countries to the negotiating table. And I swear on my honour that we will communicate with the Indians in good faith, but it takes two to tango,” Sharif said, clapping his hands to emphasise the point.
In a later statement, Sharif’s office said, “In reference to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s interview with Al Arabiya, the Prime Minister’s Office spokesman stated that the Prime Minister had consistently maintained that Pakistan and India must resolve their bilateral issues, particularly the core issue of Jammu & Kashmir, through dialogue and peaceful means.”
It noted, “However, the Prime Minister has consistently stated on record that negotiations are only conceivable if India reverses its illegal action of August 5, 2019; without India’s reversal of this action, conversations are impossible.” The Kashmir problem must be resolved in conformity with UN resolutions and the aspirations of the Jammu and Kashmiri people.”