Appeasment or Intelligence? Nawaz Sharif Takes Indian Bashing and Pakistan’s Prosperity as Synonymous


Prime minister for a third time, Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif wants peace with India and even the Taliban – but don’t expect him to have changed.


From an armchair in Pakistan’s version of the Oval Office, Nawaz Sharif points towards the forested slopes of the Margalla Hills. “They are the foothills of the Himalayas,” says the man who reacquired the rights to this office — and to this view — when he returned for a third stint as prime minister in June.

This comeback has given Mr Sharif arguably the toughest job in the world: governing a nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people, beset by terrorism, economic crisis and a perilous confrontation with India.

Only last week, the army was hunting for Islamist gunmen in the hills outside Mr Sharif’s window in the capital, Islamabad. Meanwhile, Pakistani and Indian forces are once again clashing along the “Line of Control”, running through the disputed territory of Kashmir, barely 50 miles to the east.

In his first interview since returning to office, Mr Sharif, calm, deliberate and assured, makes clear that he sees his election victory as a mandate for peace with India. He talks with genuine feeling about the need for reconciliation with Pakistan’s oldest enemy.

“There will be progress and there has to be progress,” says Mr Sharif. “If we have to prosper, there has to be progress on this.”

He says: “We didn’t have any India-bashing slogans in the elections. We don’t believe in such slogans. There have been such slogans in the past — 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago — but not now. In fact, I very clearly spoke about good relations with India even before the elections were happening.”

He goes on: “I made my position very clear: if we get a mandate, we will make sure we pick up the threads from where we left off in 1999 and then reach out to India, sit with them, resolve all our outstanding issues, including the issue of Kashmir, through peaceful means.”

In fact, the 63-year-old politician wants to pick up the threads of his last government in almost every respect. That premiership ended when he was thrown out of power and into jail by his army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, in 1999. This bruising downfall lumbered Mr Sharif with the traditional penalty of political failure in Pakistan — a battery of criminal convictions (all overturned), six months behind bars and seven years of exile in London and Saudi Arabia.

Having achieved political resurrection by winning the election in May, Mr Sharif might be expected to pose as a new man, wiser and more mature than the politician who was cast out of office. In fact, he does not follow this script. On his telling, Mr Sharif offers continuity not change; after all, he believes his previous governments were success stories.

“We did deliver,” he says. “We were able to meet the expectations of the people to some extent. That is why we were re-elected in 1997 and that is why we have been re-elected in 2013.”

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Discussion8 Comments

  1. Did he not rob the nation dry?
    He gave up Kashmir, with Srinagar in our sight.
    He did nothing for the nation.

    He comes back on a leash with vested business interests in India. He is not a stateman for Pakistanis but a statesman for the Americans and Indians. He represents American and Indian long term interests, this is not friendship this is bending over for India without India resolving ALL outstanding issue with kashmir as the core.

    Musharraf did much wrong:

    But he made Pakistan safer.
    He reduce Pakistani debt.
    He incresed Pakistani GDP.
    He made Pakistan stronger.
    He has been the closest General to liberating Kashmir.

    He did make a pact with USA after 911 but no more than Zardari and Shareef. He was oblivious to the American pervasive nature and tentacles of terror and espionage let loose and to be fair how could he know. neither did Zardari do anything to remvoe American pervasive policies but it was ISI and Pakistan Army that changed this.

    Today American is abck in to destabilise Pakistan through Shareef.

    Shareef is incapable of governance but master of deceit.
    Shareef is a coward and a sham to all punjabis and kashmiris.
    Shareef is an utter pillock..

  2. Another 9 civilians die in Azad Kashmir and a woman murdered by Indian blatant targeting of civilians.

    Friendship with who?

    Latton kay boot baatein say nehin maantay.

    History has shown us in 65 years that the Banya nation has only talked peace when it sees Pakistani in a strategic place or assertive.

    Pakistan should dismiss any calls for freindship with India and focus on stabilising the nation and borders and provide complete support to Kashmir and WARN India that the continued ceasefire violation from India will result Pakistan full retalliation and we should use China also to give them “the Sino-Pak pinch” – a taste of what it would feel if it became a squeeze.

    continued opression of Kashmiris need to be countered with tough talk that Pakistan has the right to cross into Kashmir to assist the Kashmiris as this is a UN ceasefire line of LoC based on India honouring UN resolutions and desisting in it’s persecution of Kashmir.

    • Why you people mostly concerned about internal matter of India ? Kashmir and even Pok is integral part of India. First of all make your house in order, more Muslim are dying in terrorist attack in Pakistan than India. If you ask to any Muslim they will prefer India than Pak. Considering attack on India. You already tested your power and suffer heavy defeat twice and giving birth to Bangladesh. If you attack again your pakistan will turn into many nation. China is using you to counter India but China will never attack on India considering there economic servile on India. China is not a foolish nation like you. They have more enemy than India and even India have that much guts to defend there sovereignty. Good relation with India is essential for development of Pakistan.

  3. If you can take your new prime minister at his word then he sounds like an experienced individual who has a plan to bring Pakistan forward. He must also know how to deal best with extremists who have plagued your country since its inception.

    • C’mon mate…. after all this time of this forum…. Do you REALLY think all these “peace loving” Pakis actually want or even understand the concept of peace, negotiations, growth, live and let live etc?

      These guys don’t. No wonder they think anyone talking peace with India is doing something wrong. All giggles.

  4. Eddied – you ar enot familiar with Pakistan are you?

    Where were extremists inside Pakistan between 1967 – 1999.

    There wer none, zero.

    The extremist were placed, manufactured to destabilise Pakistan from within in 2001 – 2007 led by the foreign terror group non Pakistani TTP funded and supported by outsiders.

    Prior to 1999 where were the extremist?

    You are grossly exaggerating your claims or genuinely unfamiliar with the history of Pakistan.

    • Where were the extremists?…you tell me?…the salafists and the deobrandi were there at that time..why were they not killing kafirs and apostates then?…why were the Sunnis not killing the Shias at that time?…what changed in Pakistanan to make it so intolerant of other ideas?…and please don’t try and tell me the west had anything to do with this intolerance…the west has always believd in tolerance for different religions and beliefs…what changed in Pakistan? Or maybe nothing changed and the killing was happening but no one knew about it?…you tell me?…

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