Sharif asks ministers to refrain from anti-India rhetoric


In the backdrop of the thaw in India-Pakistan relations, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked his ministers not to indulge in anti-India statements, so that the revived peace process does not get bogged down in mutual recriminations.

According to various news reports in Pakistan, a close aide to Mr Sharif said on December 18 that the ministers and senior officials had been asked not to issue any statement that could damage the peace process. “There will be statements only that encourage the dialogue process rather than digging out the past. The PM has asked the close aides and cabinet members to promote peace,” Pakistan’s leading daily ‘The Nation’ quoted an official as saying. “Sharif was optimistic about better ties with India, which would benefit the whole region,” said the office.

Mr Sharif and the military leadership are understood to be on the same page to make peace with India. “There is no difference of opinion and both agree that there should be no compromise on the stated position on key issues,” he added.

Recent meetings between Mr Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris, and subsequent meeting of the National Security Advisors in Bangkok, set the stage for External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad. The talks in Islamabad culminated in the launch of re-christened Bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue, which will cover all outstanding issues, including terror and Jammu and Kashmir. To address terror-related issues on priority, the two countries also agreed to a separate dialogue between their National Security Advisers.

Speculation is swirling that that Mr Sharif and Mr Modi may meet again in Switzerland in January. The two leaders are likely to meet on January 20 to attend the 46th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos-Klosters.

India’s outgoing high commissioner to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan on December 17 said the relations between the two countries were improving.  The resumption of dialogue has been hailed by analysts and media across the border.

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