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‘Just Resolution of Kashmir’ Vs ‘Region Free of Terror’: No Sign of Concession in PMs’ Stances

‘Just Resolution of Kashmir’ Vs ‘Region Free of Terror’: No Sign of Concession in PMs’ Stances

PM Narendra Modi’s words of congratulations to Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif placed terror front and centre. The latter had said good relations with India were conditional on a “just” resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

New Delhi: After newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said relations with India were conditional on a ‘just’ resolution of the Kashmir dispute, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated his counterpart and asserted that New Delhi desires peace in a “region free of terror”.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) leader Sharif was sworn in as Pakistan prime minister after being elected in parliament, in a session boycotted by lawmakers from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI). The former chief minister of Punjab Province, Sharif, became prime minister after the joint opposition successfully passed a no-confidence motion against the previous prime minister, Imran Khan.

In his congratulatory tweet, Modi stated that India desired “desires peace and stability in a region free of terror so that we can focus on our development challenges and ensure the well-being and prosperity of our people”.

His words mirrored those of Sharif’s first speech as prime minister on improving the economic conditions of people on the two sides. But, their core issues differed – Kashmir for Shehbaz Sharif, a terror-free region for Modi – showing no sign of concession from either side.

Sharif asserted that while his elder brother, Nawaz Sharif, had extended a hand of friendship to India, the latter had also raised Kashmir strongly at the United Nations.

He added that while his government wanted good relations with India, it was conditional on a “just” resolution of the Kashmir dispute. “We will raise our voice for Kashmiri brother on every forum. We will give them diplomatic and moral support,” he said, as quoted by Dawn.

Sharif stated that his advice to Modi was to realise that there “is poverty, unemployment and diseases on both sides of the border”.

“Why do we want our coming generations to suffer. Come, let’s resolve the Kashmir issue in line with United Nations resolutions and Kashmiris’ expectations so that we are able to end poverty on both sides of the border.”

Sharif used his first speech to announce a slew of economic welfare measures and a commitment to improving ties with the United States, China, the European Union, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The new prime minister may not have much time to implement his agenda as there are signs that parliamentary elections may occur earlier than scheduled in 2023. PTI has already announced that it will hold protests against the removal of Imran Khan, claiming that it was “regime change” under instructions from the United States and the Pakistan military establishment.

Over four years ago, Modi had called up Imran Khan to personally convey congratulations to the former cricket star. Like Sharif, Imran Khan had called for both countries to devise a joint action plan on poverty alleviation.

India’s relationship with Pakistan, which has been strained due to cross-border terror attacks, had further worsened after New Delhi removed the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir.

In his parliamentary speech on April 11, Shehbaz Sharif had criticised Imran Khan for not forcibly raising India’s reading down of Article 370. 

In Modi’s first term, there had been signs of thaw when Nawaz Sharif had visited India to witness the swearing-in ceremony with all other South Asian leaders in 2014. The Indian prime minister had also made a surprise, unannounced visit to Lahore in 2015. But a year later, India conducted “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control in response to a terror attack on Indian army brigade headquarters in Uri.


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