Settlement of Kashmir issue indispensable, says Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for felicitating him.

April 12, 2022 04:13 pm | Updated 11:15 pm IST - New Delhi

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks in the National Assembly session in Islamabad.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks in the National Assembly session in Islamabad. | Photo Credit: AP/Press Information Department

Pakistan's newly appointed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has drawn attention to Pakistan's "sacrifices" in fighting terrorism at home. In a response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's congratulatory message that was delivered after Mr Sharif on Monday became the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan, he sought "peaceful" resolution of the Kashmir issue.

"Pakistan desires peaceful and cooperative ties with India. Peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes including Jammu and Kashmir is indispensable. Pakistan's sacrifices in fighting terrorism are well known. Let's secure and focus on socio-economic development of our people," said Prime Minister Sharif in a social media message on Tuesday.

The response to Mr. Modi's message was one of the first international exchanges that PM Sharif carried out on taking formal charge as the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Tuesday. Later, he convened an urgent meeting of the team for economic affairs that discussed a set of proposals to deal with the worsening economic situation in the country. He also ordered the formation of a National Economic Advisory Council that will consist of independent economic experts. It is widely believed that handling the deteriorating economic condition of Pakistan would be the focus area of governance of Mr. Sharif who dislodged Prime Minister Imran Khan in the dramatic no-confidence motion of April 9.

Pakistan's economic woes are also linked with the country's record as a known sanctuary for regional terror outfits like the Lashkar E Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as the country's eligibility as an investment destination remains under watch from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international anti-terror and anti-money laundering watchdog. A day before the no-confidence motion, an anti-terror court in Pakistan handed out a 31-year jail term to LeT chief Hafiz Saeed.

The latest sentencing of Hafiz Saeed is however believed to be linked with the next meeting of FATF when the country is likely to face sanctions for not taking concrete and verifiable steps against terror outfits that target neighbouring countries like India and Afghanistan from its soil.

Apart from anti-India outfits like LeT and JeM, Mr. Sharif will also have to counter the growing threat of the Islamic State which has targeted religious minorities in Pakistan. ISIS-K carried out a deadly attack in a Shia mosque in Peshawar on March 4 which claimed at least 57 lives and injured at least 100. Mr. Sharif's elder brother, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revealed in 2018 that Pakistani elements were involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

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