Islamabad: Describing Kashmir as the "jugular vein" of his country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said India and Pakistan should join hands to tackle poverty and disease instead of wasting their resources on wars.
Kashmir is a "national issue and the jugular vein of Pakistan" and its resolution is as dear to him as other Pakistanis, Sharif said in his first address to the nation since assuming office in June.
Sharif cautioned that Pakistan cannot achieve any target without strengthening its economy. "Alongside the Kashmir issue‚ we will have to pay attention to strengthening our economy‚ resolve our internal and external problems and tackle the power crisis and terrorism," he said.
Referring to his desire to forge good relations with India, Sharif said both countries should realise that "instead of wasting their energies and resources on wars‚ they should wage war against poverty‚ ignorance and disease".
Pakistan and India will have to join their heads together to address common issues like poverty and ignorance, he said.
"History bears testimony to the fact that progress and development of a nation is deeply linked to cordial relations with neighbours. It is because of this that we want good relations with all neighbours, including India," he said.
Sharif said he had "always wanted good relations with India" and the people had supported his contention during the general election in May.
Without referring to clashes along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, Sharif said the country is "fully prepared to defend the motherland along with its valiant armed forces".
Sharif's PML-N party won the polls with a clear majority but has been struggling with an array of challenges, ranging from a crippling energy crisis to a Taliban insurgency.
Ties between Islamabad and New Delhi too have soured since five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by Pakistani troops along the LoC.