Sunday, Jul 03, 2022
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Pakistan Can't Afford Enmity With US, Says PM Shehbaz Sharif In Criticism Of Imran Khan's Foreign Policy

PM Sharif expressed regrets that Khan annoyed all those countries that had always helped Pakistan, such as China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and US.

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Pakistans Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif PTI

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said the country cannot afford to have "enmity with the United States at all" as he vowed to rebuild relationships that suffered under his predecessor Imran Khan.

In an interaction with the press at an Iftar reception at PM House, Sharif expressed regrets that Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had annoyed all those countries that had always helped Pakistan in difficult times, especially China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States.

The Dawn newspaper reported Sharif as saying that there was a need to end the mistrust between Pakistan and the United States and both countries needed to see if they had committed any mistakes in the past

Prior to his ouster earlier this month in a no-confidence motion, Khan had alleged that the Opposition was conspiring with a foreign power to remove him from office. In an apparent slip of tongue in an address to nation, Khan referred the United States as the foreign power. Khan alleged that this foreign country had conveyed to the Pakistan ambassador in the country that relations with Pakistan would suffer if Khan continued as prime minister. 

The United States repeatedly denied these allegations. 

In the interaction with press, Sharif's main emphasis was on the country’s foreign policy. About his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, he said he expected to have a discussion on bilateral issues and cooperation with the Saudi leadership.

The foreign visit, beginning on Thursday, will be Sharif's first as prime minister. Sharif has a close relationship with the Saudi royal family, which played a key role in the safe exit of Nawaz Sharif from Pakistan after Parvez Musharraf overthrew his government in 1999 in a coup. The Sharif family lived in Saudi Arabia for eight years in exile after the coup. They returned to Pakistan in 2007.

Following Saudi Arabia, Sharif is expected to visit China as the two countries are Pakistan's closest partners. Sharif enjoys a good relationship with the Chinese as well as he earlier played a key role in speeding up CPEC projects.

Listing Imran Khan's mistakes in foreign policy, Sharif said first the his government annoyed Qatar royal family by raising fingers at the contract signed by Pakistan for the purchase of gas in 2016 and then they did the same thing with China when they cried foul and corruption in Chinese projects launched in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Sharif further said that Saudi Arabia had given oil on deferred payment to Pakistan as well as deposited money with the central bank to help Pakistan's country's economy. But Imran Khan's PTI government told Saudi Arabia “we can raise the issue of Kashmir without you”.

On Khan's Afghan policy, Sharif said, “What is good for Afghanistan, it is good for Pakistan and vice versa.”

Commenting on Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party's planned marches and rallies, Sharif said that his government did not believe in politics of revenge, but he would also not tolerate anarchy in the country. 

(With PTI inputs)

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