LONDON - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has left London for the US to hold talks with the Obama administration.
Talking to media persons here before departure, Nawaz Sharif said he would present Pakistan’s viewpoint on various national and international issues to the US administration.
“Pakistan’s policy on all matters is clear and we have nothing to hide or be shy about it, we want to work with the US and other world powers as a responsible country,” he said.
Earlier, Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said he would tell President Barack Obama that drone attacks violated Pakistan’s sovereignty and independence and as an ally the US must immediately halt these attacks. He said Pakistan had a clear policy on drone strikes.
Nawaz said: “There is no illusion about this policy; we believe drones challenge Pakistan’s sovereignty. We consider drone strikes as an attack on our independence; they go against Pakistan’s interests and should stop.”
The premier said during his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, he was able to present Pakistan’s viewpoint before the world in a clear and candid manner and the same position of clarity and openness would be adopted during his talks with the Obama administration.
He condemned the killing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf legislator and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister Israrullah Gandapur. He said the decision to hold talks with Taliban had been taken during the recently held all parties conference (APC).
“It was not just one party’s decision, but what has followed it is regrettable. Problems occur soon after talks begin. There are attacks, the dialogue stops and the whole confidence level is shaken,” said Nawaz Sharif, almost confirming officially that there had been some level of contact with the Taliban.
He appealed to the Taliban to think about what they want to do regarding the peace talks, but held that the dialogue process must be carried forward seriously.
When asked if he would raise the issue of Kashmir with the Obama administration, Nawaz said he would tell President Obama that his country as well as the rest of the world had a duty to intervene in resolving one of the world’s oldest running disputes.
He said India and Pakistan both were nuclear powers and the region was a nuclear flashpoint. He said though India did not want such intervention, the world powers should get involved to resolve the issue.
He said for the last 66 years both the countries were entangled in arms race. “The situation can become dangerous. The two countries have nuclear bombs; India develops missiles, so do we. There should be a limit to it. We all should think about it,” the PM said.
About talks with Taliban and deaths of three Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ministers, the prime minister said he was saddened by their killings. “All parties agreed to talks, we start talk, then violence erupts and things get off track.” He said there was need for serious efforts for talks and the efforts should also be made from the other side.
When asked if Pakistan could become a bridge between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the prime minister said such a gulf should not be there in the two countries; OIC should play a role in this situation. He said he would think himself fortunate if he could play any role but for this both the countries should first agree to it.
About youth employment programme, he said after his upcoming foreign visits, he would announce his policy in this regard. About civil nuclear technology, the prime minister said it was Pakistan’s legitimate right to benefit from it. He said he would take up the issue with the US leaders.
Talking about the post-Nato pullout situation in Afghanistan, he said Pakistan had its own place and role to play. “We want friendship with Afghanistan. We have no favourites in Afghanistan,” he asserted. The PM said he would attend trilateral conference on Afghanistan with President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister David Cameron in England during his upcoming visit to the UK. “We will try to restart our efforts for peace in Afghanistan.”
He said an economic package was being formulated to improve the state of affairs. He revealed that early resolution of cases of overseas Pakistanis like land and property grabbing was under serious discussion. “We will form a committee comprising overseas Pakistanis to resolve their issues,” he announced.
The PM made it clear that he had never said his government would overcome the energy crisis in six months. “Rather we said we would resolve this issue before the end of our tenure. After that we will be able to reduce the energy prices,” he added.