Pakistan cannot afford ‘enmity with US at all’: Sharif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan cannot afford to have “enmity with the US at all,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said, as he vowed to mend fences with all allies and friends of the country who have been estranged from Islamabad due to the faulty foreign policies of the previous government of Imran Khan.
Sharif, who assumed office on April 11, regretted that the previous government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by Khan had annoyed all those countries that had always helped Pakistan in difficult times, especially China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States.
He said 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, the Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“Pakistan cannot afford to have enmity with the US at all,” Sharif, also the President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said while responding to a volley of questions from senior journalists during an Iftar reception at the Prime Minister House on Tuesday.
Khan was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
The cricketer-turned-politician has repeatedly alleged that his political opponents colluded with the US to bring about regime in Pakistan. But he provided no credible evidence of this and Washington has strongly denied any foreign interference.
Though Sharif touched on all the issues during his nearly hour-long conversation with journalists, his main emphasis remained on the country’s foreign policy, the report said. He spoke about his forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and also expressed his concerns over the suicide attack on the Chinese nationals in Karachi earlier on Tuesday.
The prime minister said he was expected to have a discussion on bilateral issues and cooperation with the Saudi leadership during his upcoming visit to Riyadh from Thursday.
Hitting out at the previous government over its flawed foreign policy, Sharif said first the PTI 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 ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Criticising the previous government’s foreign policy, he said that Saudi Arabia had given oil on deferred payment to Pakistan, as well as deposited money with the central bank to help the country’s economy; the PTI government had told Saudi Arabia “we can raise the issue of Kashmir without you”.
On his government’s Afghan policy, Sharif said: “What is good for Afghanistan, it is good for Pakistan and vice versa.”
Prime Minister Sharif’s media interaction was also attended by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Musaddiq Malik and other senior PML-N leaders.
Commenting on Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party’s planned marches and rallies, he said that his government did not believe in politics of revenge, but he would also not tolerate anarchy in the country.
About the media, Sharif said he believed in the freedom of speech and that it was important for the media to highlight the mistakes of his government. PTI


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