Shehbaz in the saddle: Thaw in India-Pak ties to remain elusive - The Tribune India

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Shehbaz in the saddle

Thaw in India-Pak ties to remain elusive

Shehbaz in the saddle

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ALMOST a month after Pakistan’s elections threw up an inconclusive verdict, Shehbaz Sharif has started his second term as the Prime Minister. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) finally cobbled together a coalition after prolonged parleys. The country’s military leadership has achieved its objective of keeping jailed ex-PM Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf out of power, even though candidates backed by the party had upstaged both the PML-N and the PPP in the February 8 elections. Thus, it is evident that the Pakistani military establishment will continue to call the shots.

With Pakistan in the throes of an economic crisis, Shehbaz has declared that his government’s top priority would be to improve the economy. The immediate challenge is to persuade the International Monetary Fund to extend the funding facility beyond the term of the current agreement, which expires in April. On the geopolitical front, Shehbaz has his work cut out in view of Pakistan’s troubled ties with neighbours Afghanistan, Iran and India.

The India-Pakistan relations have been in deep freeze since 2019, the year that witnessed the Pulwama terror attack, the Balakot airstrikes and the abrogation of Article 370 that had granted special status to Jammu & Kashmir. While Shehbaz has vowed to improve Pakistan’s ties with all leading nations, including its neighbours, he has struck a discordant note by equating Kashmiris with Palestinians. The Kashmir issue was raised recently by Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council, drawing a sharp reaction from India, which urged Islamabad to introspect on its ‘appalling human rights record’ and ‘global reputation as the world’s terrorism factory’. Indeed, there’s nothing new about Pakistan’s new government, which will prefer to stay on the right side of both China and the US. This implies that the cross-border terror tap won’t be turned off anytime soon and the relations with India will remain strained.

#Pakistan #Shehbaz Sharif


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