PM Nawaz wants peace with India, Taliban
24 August, 2013
LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has stressed the need for having cordial relations with India, as well as holding peace talks with the Taliban.
Talking to the Telegraph in his first interview since returning to office, Nawaz said that made it clear that he sees his election victory as a mandate for peace with India.
Talking with genuine feeling about the need for reconciliation with Pakistan's oldest rival, he said, "There will be progress and there has to be progress... If we have to prosper, there has to be progress on this."
"We didn't have any India-bashing slogans in the elections. We don't believe in such slogans. There have been such slogans in the past – 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago – but not now. In fact, I very clearly spoke about good relations with India even before the elections were happening."
He said that he made his position very clear that "if we get a mandate, we will make sure we pick up the threads from where we left off in 1999 and then reach out to India, sit with them, resolve all our outstanding issues, including the issue of Kashmir, through peaceful means".
On his telling, Nawaz offers continuity not change; after all, he believes his previous governments were success stories, the Telegraph reported. "We did deliver," he said. "We were able to meet the expectations of the people to some extent. That is why we were re-elected in 1997 and that is why we have been re-elected in 2013."
"If I take you back to Nineties, our party came up with very bold reforms in the country, economic reforms. They were really revolutionary reforms." During his first premiership between 1990 and 1993, Nawaz privatised banks, insurance companies and key industries. In his mind, he brought the free market not only to his homeland, but to India as well. "India was taken aback, frankly. India felt that India must also have same reforms in India as Pakistan," he said in the interview. "There was tremendous pressure on the Indian government, I know, that India should also copy the reforms that Pakistan has introduced."
During his first premiership between 1990 and 1993, Nawaz privatised banks, insurance companies and key industries. In his mind, he brought the free market not only to his homeland, but to India as well. "India was taken aback, frankly. India felt that India must also have same reforms in India as Pakistan," he said in the interview. "There was tremendous pressure on the Indian government, I know, that India should also copy the reforms that Pakistan has introduced."
Nawaz said his government would produce a new national security strategy in the next few weeks, and that the emphasis will shift away from force and towards negotiation with the Taliban.
"Of course we're fighting each other," he said. "I believe that there may be no harm in exploring the other option of having dialogue with them if they're at all serious, and if we find them serious enough – and if we think that talks can yield positive results."
If Nawaz achieves peace with India and a settlement with the Taliban – two monumental ifs – he could yet be a transforming leader, the newspaper reported.
He seemed aware of the burden of responsibility. "I have to make sure we do the right things," he said. "We have to make sure we tread the right path, pursue the right policies – and not make any mistake."
As for Pakistan's tortured relations with America, he described the drone campaign on the Afghan frontier as the No 1 'irritant', adding, "The drones are counter-productive, they are violating our sovereignty and we must respect each other's territorial sovereignty and if the drones are challenging our sovereignty this is not a fair thing."