India jilts Pakistan on push for better ties: Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. File photo: AP

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. File photo: AP

India has failed to respond to Pakistan's desire for good relations, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, in rare rebuke against India with whom he has promised to mend ties. Mr. Sharif made improving relations with India a priority when he swept to power for a third time in a 2013 election, raising hopes that a Pakistani civilian government would finally wrest control of foreign policy from the powerful military.

The nuclear-armed neighbours' top diplomats met in Pakistan last month, after at least a dozen people were killed in a series of exchanges of fire along their disputed border, but there has been little sign of progress in ties. “Our desire for good neighbourly relations with India has not been reciprocated,” Mr. Sharif told the Saudi Gazette in an interview during a recent visit that was published in Pakistani newspapers on Wednesday.

Mr. Sharif said his acceptance of an invitation last May to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inauguration was "an exceptional decision".

But months later, India withdrew from talks after Pakistan's ambassador in India met Kashmiri separatist politicians. Mr. Sharif said that was a "frivolous pretext." "There is no sign of India desiring resumption of dialogue with us," he said.

Mr. Sharif's aim to improve ties with India was widely seen as cause of friction with the army, though tension has eased since last year when the coup-prone military helped calm anti-government protests. A government insider said at the time Mr. Sharif would stay in power but had to "share space" with the army on issues such as relations with India and security.

Mr. Sharif said Pakistan was ready for "constructive dialogue for negotiated settlement of all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir".

India was angered this month when a Pakistani court freed on bail Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was accused of plotting the Mumbai terror attacks . India said the release "reinforced the perception that Pakistan has a dual policy on dealing with terrorists".

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2022 9:25:48 am |