Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said it is imperative that the leadership in Pakistan and India should rise to the expectations of their people and the two nations need to start a “new chapter” in ties by working towards resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue.
Sharif made the remarks when Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar called on him during his Islamabad visit as part of the ‘SAARC yatra' he is undertaking on the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sharif said it is important to establish good neighbourly and cooperative relations between India and Pakistan which is consistent with his vision of a peaceful neighbourhood in South Asia.
Jaishankar flew-in here this morning as part of his “SAARC yatra” and held extensive talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhary besides calling on Prime Minister Sharif and his Advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office here, Sharif expressed confidence that today's talks between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries will result in charting the way forward in bilateral relations.
“Both the countries need to start a new chapter in their relationship by working towards resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue,” he said.
Sharif stressed that it is imperative that the leadership in the two countries should rise to the expectations of the two peoples.
“We must think together, act together and move forward with the spirit of bringing the two nations closer to each other. The two countries should lend a hand of cooperation to each other to improve the standard of living of 1.5 billion people,” Sharif said.
Noting that the South Asian region has suffered enormously due to tensions and unresolved disputes despite being blessed with enormous resources, Sharif said the people deserve to live in peace and reap the benefits of economic development.
He said it would be important that the bilateral discussions, whenever held, would seek to address each other's concerns in areas where the two countries differ and work together in areas where both the countries agree.
Jaishankar's parleys today appeared to have provided the two sides to move ahead on the road towards resumption of their dialogue which was interrupted seven months ago when India called-off foreign secretary-level talks at the eleventh hour because the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri separatists.
During the call-on, Jaishankar also handed over Prime Minister Modi's letter to Sharif.
The Pakistani Prime Minister said that he looks forward to welcoming all SAARC leaders when the next summit of the grouping takes place in Pakistan in 2016.
SAARC forum offers an important avenue to all countries of the region to develop the potential of regional cooperation by working together, he said.
Sharif stressed that “peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control” must be maintained.
Sharif said he was “deeply disturbed” at the recent incidents of firing on the Working Boundary.
The existing military to military mechanisms must be used optimally to check ceasefire violations, he said. The Prime Minister said both the countries can address their outstanding issues by approaching each other with sincerity and as good neighbours. Noting that terrorism has afflicted the entire region, Sharif said that Pakistan is “waging a valiant struggle against all terrorists by dismantling their hideouts and network.”
During his meeting with Jaishankar, Sharif recalled his meeting with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi on May 27 last year.
“It was our shared desire to improve our bilateral relations,” Sharif said.
He also recalled his meetings with former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.