The Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, on Thursday emphasised the need for India and Pakistan to jointly address socio-economic problems like unemployment and poverty.
Addressing worshippers at the Jama Masjid here, Mr. Sharif said: “Namazi bhaiyon aslam o alikum. It is my good fortune that I have got an opportunity to pray in the hallowed premises of the Jama Masjid. I feel the time has come for India and Pakistan to jointly tackle issues confronting them”.
Stating that both Pakistan and India were faced with unemployment and poverty, he said: “If these two important issues are sorted out, then both the countries can concentrate on development.”
Accompanied by a delegation comprising Pakistan Minister of State for Commerce and Textile Industry Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan and High Commissioner Salman Bashir, Mr. Sharif first had a meeting with Jama Masjid’s Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari.
Dressed in black, Mr. Sharif said his first visit to India was in the 1960s. “With my walid sahib [father], I had travelled to Amritsar. I think it was 1964.”
After Mr. Sharif offered prayers, he shook hands with some worshippers. On being asked about his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said: “It was a productive meeting”.
Refuting allegations that he had extended support to Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Mr. Sharif said it was “complete garbage”.
“There is nothing of this sort. Such institutions are under the control of the Pakistani government and operate as per norms of the United Nations,” Mr. Sharif added.
Mr. Sharif also took a ride on the Delhi Metro and was impressed with the souvenirs at the Metro Museum at the Patel Chowk station.
Kabadi being a popular sport in both Indian as well as Pakistani side of Punjab, Mr. Sharif would be the chief guest at the Kabadi World Cup Championship finals in Ludhiana on Saturday.
Mr. Sharif is in the country on the invitation of his Indian counterpart, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.