Mending relations with ‘upset’ neighbours crucial for Pakistan, says Nawaz

Published December 9, 2023
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif addresses his party’s parliamentary board meeting, alongside party president Shehbaz Sharif and former finance minister Ishaq Dar, in Lahore on Dec 9. — PTV Screengrab via X
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif addresses his party’s parliamentary board meeting, alongside party president Shehbaz Sharif and former finance minister Ishaq Dar, in Lahore on Dec 9. — PTV Screengrab via X

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif on Saturday stressed the need to improve relationships with Pakistan’s neighbours, wondering how the country could achieve a global status while there were disagreements with bordering nations.

Addressing the party’s parliamentary board meeting in Lahore, he said: “How can you achieve a global status when your neighbours are upset with you, or you are with them?

“We have to fix our affairs with India and Afghanistan as well, [and] strengthen them further with Iran and China,” he asserted.

His statement comes amid Pakistan’s frigid ties with India — seen in sports as well as verbal exchanges between leaders — and with Afghanistan due to terrorism concerns and the ongoing deportation drive.

Today, Nawaz emphasised that a government should not only focus on the economic and financial performance but “show its performance in every sector”.

He recalled that during his party’s tenures, two Indian premiers — Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 and Narendra Modi in 2015 — visited Pakistan. “Did anyone come before them?” he asked.

The ex-PM then criticised the PTI government for “trying to sabotage” the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He further said that there was “only talk but no work” about making use of the country’s coal resources.

‘Mismanaged economy’

At the outset of his address, the PML-N supremo recalled that Pakistan’s “economic indicators were going forward” during his party’s 2013-2018 tenure.

He asserted that the rupee maintained its position for four years and the world recognised that Pakistan was well ahead in the development speed and would achieve a great status in not just the region but in the world.

“That dream should have been fulfilled but such factors and characters came in between who brought a well-running Pakistan to a grinding halt,” Nawaz said.

He went on to say that since then, the country’s economic development ceased and the GDP rate and currency began a downward spiral.

The PML-N supremo stated that the basic reason for the high inflation rate was that the economy had been “mismanaged”.

Urging the party leaders to “note when it started being mismanaged”, he said it started in 2019 and till 2022, when his brother and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif became the prime minister, “everything” had receded.

“I do not understand how a country’s governance is handed over to an inept person. You take the powers from a well-run government and hand them to an inept person,” he said in an apparent reference to former premier Imran Khan.

Nawaz also spoke about the electricity issues facing the country, stating that previously there was “only the issue of load-shedding but now Imran Khan’s government has also created the problem of power prices for us”.

The former prime minister asserted that his party’s top aim of coming into politics should be to solve the myriad of issues facing the country, including poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and underdevelopment.

“Then we can talk about personal standing later on,” he added.

“There should be an agreement between us that you are acquiring tickets to serve this country and take it to its real position,” he told his party leaders.

‘Why were we ousted?’

Speaking about his party’s three tenures, Nawaz said: “Each time, we came and did good work for the country’s development and each time we were ousted.”

“Why were we ousted?” he asked. “I should know why we were ousted in 1993, in 1999.

“[Was it] because we handled matters the right way? [Was it] because we said the fighting in Kargil should not have taken place? Is this why we were ousted?” he asked, adding that he was “proven right”.

Addressing his party leaders, the PML-N supremo said they should not only be passionate about obtaining tickets for contesting the upcoming general elections but also think about the country’s situation.

“Those who have brought the country to this point, they should also be held accountable. They should be asked how you meted out such treatment with this country.

“Why did you do so, which no patriotic Pakistani can ever even imagine?” the former premier asked.

Nawaz’s questions echoed his statements from a day ago when he said his party does not desire to win elections and form a government but demands accountability.

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