Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called for "serious and sincere talks" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on "burning points like Kashmir." In an interview with Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV, Mr. Sharif said that Pakistan has learned its lesson after three wars with India and stressed that now it wants peace with its neighbour.
"My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Modi is that let's sit down on the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning points like Kashmir. It is up to us to live peacefully and make progress or quarrel with each other and waste time and resources," Mr. Sharif said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan PMO, in a series of tweets, clarified that PM Sharif had made it clear that talks with India will be possible only when the neighbour reverses the abrogation of Article 370 that grants autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.
In an interview with the Dubai-based Arabic news channel, the Pakistan Prime Minister said, "We have had three wars with India, and they have only brought more misery, poverty, and unemployment to the people. We have learnt our lesson, and we want to live in peace with India, provided we are able to resolve our genuine problems," Mr. Sharif said in the interview that was aired on January 16.
Pakistan, which is battling a severe economic crisis, public discontent due to flour crisis and fuel shortage among others, is also faced with rising instances of terror attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which had ended a ceasefire with the country's security forces late last year.
"India is our neighbour country, we are neighbours. Let's be very blunt, even if we are not neighbours by choice we are there forever and it is up to us for us to live peacefully and progress or quarrel with each other and waste time and resources. That is up to us," Mr. Sharif said in the interview to Al Arabiya.
Sharif slams revocation of Article 370
Mr. Sharif also brought up the subject of Kashmir, adding that Pakistan wants peace but insists that “what is happening in Kashmir should be stopped”.
“[India] usurped whatever semblance of autonomy was given to Kashmiris in their Consitution — Article 370. They revoked that in August 2019, and minorities over there are pained, grossly mishandled. This must stop so that a message can go around the globe that India is ready to have talks, and we are more than ready,” said Mr. Sharif.
The Pakistan leader in the interview that was also uploaded on Monday on the @AlArabiya_shows Twitter handle said that both the countries have engineers, doctors, and skilled labourers.
"We want to utilise these assets for prosperity and to bring peace to the region so that both nations can grow."
"Pakistan does not want to waste resources on bombs and ammunition. We are nuclear powers, armed to the teeth, and if God forbids, a war breaks out, who will live to tell what happened?" he said.
‘Talks only after India revokes its decision on Kashmir’
The Pakistan PMO said that PM Sharif had consistently maintained that Pakistan and India must resolve their bilateral issues through dialogue and peaceful means, but only after India revokes its decision on Kashmir.
“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,” the Pakistan PMO tweeted.
“However the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated on record that talks can only take place after India has reversed its illegal action (sic) of August 5, 2019. Without India’s revocation of this step, negotiations are not possible,” it said, adding “The settlement of the Kashmir dispute must be in accordance with the UN resolutions & aspirations of people of Jammu & Kashmir. The Spokespman said that the Prime Minister made this position very clear in his interview with Al Arabiya news during his recent visit to the UAE.”
India in November last year had lashed out at Pakistan for raking up the issue of Kashmir during a United Nations debate, terming it as "desperate attempts to peddle falsehoods".
(With inputs from ANI)