'War not an option': Pakistani premier says ready for talks with 'neighbor'
Shehbaz Sharif says wars have resulted in more poverty, lack of resources in region
By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said his country is ready to resume long-stalled talks with its "neighbor" as war is "not an option anymore."
“We are ready to talk to them, provided that the neighbor is serious to talk on serious matters … because war is no more an option,” he said in an apparent reference to longtime rival India.
Addressing a summit on mineral development in the capital Islamabad, Sharif, whose government is set to complete its term on Aug. 12, observed that a nuclear flashpoint "will leave no one to tell what happened."
He insisted that Islamabad's nuclear program is purely for defense purposes and not for any aggression.
“Pakistan, thanks to God, is a nuclear power — but not as an aggressor. It's only for the defense purpose," Sharif said.
“And God forbid if there is a nuclear flashpoint, who will live to tell what happened? So war is not an option," he went on to say.
Referring to the three wars against India since 1947, Sharif observed that they have resulted in more poverty and a lack of resources in the region.
These resources, he said, could have otherwise been spent on the development and prosperity of the people.
“Is this the way that we should adopt or have economic competition (with India)?” he maintained.
“But the neighbor has to understand that we cannot become normal neighbors unless abnormalities are removed, unless our serious issues are understood and addressed through peaceful and meaningful discussions," he went on to argue, referring to a host of land and sea disputes involving the two neighbors, mainly the lingering dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.
Relations between the two nuclear neighbors were further strained after New Delhi scrapped the decades-long special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.
Since then, Islamabad has downgraded diplomatic ties and halted trade with New Delhi.
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