India ties, Afghanistan peace top priorities: PM

Published October 11, 2013
Mr Sharif told Foreign Secretary-designate Abdul Basit to work for aligning foreign policy with the economic development agenda of the country and to purse the ‘region first’ approach.  — File Photo
Mr Sharif told Foreign Secretary-designate Abdul Basit to work for aligning foreign policy with the economic development agenda of the country and to purse the ‘region first’ approach. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says normalising ties with India and facilitating peace in Afghanistan are his foreign policy priorities.

Prime Minister Sharif, according to a source, shared his priorities with Foreign Secretary-designate Abdul Basit in a meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Sharif further told Mr Basit to work for aligning foreign policy with the economic development agenda of the country and to pursue the ‘region first’ approach.

Mr Basit was chosen on Wednesday to replace incumbent Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, who has been appointed as ambassador to the United States.

A source said Mr Jilani is expected to move to the United States for assuming his new assignment by the end of this month, while Mr Basit would take charge of the foreign ministry in the first week of November.

Mr Basit enjoys a personal rapport with his Indian counterpart Sujata Singh, who too before being posted as foreign secretary served as her country’s ambassador to Germany. This rapport, analysts believe, would help

Mr Basit in achieving the goal of normalisation of ties with India.

The FS designate, the source said, assured the prime minister that he would develop a clear strategy for achievement of the foreign policy objectives of peace and prosperity in light of his guidelines.

Meanwhile, in a surprising move the government on Thursday picked columnist Kamran Shafi, an army critic, as high commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Mr Shafi would replace Mr Wajid Shamsul Hassan in London.

Mr Hassan had resigned from the position in June after the new government came into office, but was asked to continue till the appointment of his successor.

Mr Shafi, a former army officer, remained a close associate of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. However, his relations with the PPP remained lukewarm during its last tenure in office.

He is not known for having a strong affiliation with PML-N.

Mr Shafi has previously served as press minister in the Pakistan High Commission in UK.

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