Pak new PM Shehbaz rakes up Kashmir, disappoints India

Pak PM Shehbaz Shaiif

Rama Krishna Sangem

By raking up Kashmir issue in his first remarks, Pakistan’s new prime minister Shehbaz Sharif almost dashed off hopes of any immediate revival of cordial ties with India. Just after winning a vote of confidence in Pakistan parliament on March 3, Sunday, Sharif said peace would prevail if only Kashmir and Palestine issues are resolved. This way, he wants to make Kashmir an international issue.

This is against to the spirit of Shimla agreement signed between then Pakistan PM Bhutto and Indian PM Indira Gandhi.The agreement makes it clear  that Kashmir can only be solved through bilateral talks. But, Pakistan’s army top brass prefers to keep Kashmir an international issue.

Shehbaz Sharif was on Monday sworn in as Pakistan’s 24th Prime Minister, taking over the reins of the cash-strapped country for a second time since 2022, amidst staggering economic and security challenges.

President Arif Alvi administered the oath to the 72-year-old Shehbaz in a ceremony held at the Aiwan-i-Sadr, the presidential residence. The oath-taking ceremony comes days after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party agreed on a power-sharing deal to form a coalition government.

Shehbaz earlier served as prime minister of a coalition government from April 2022 to August 2023 before Parliament was dissolved to hold general elections last month. The ceremony was attended by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N workers. PPP leader and Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah was also present on the occasion.

On Sunday, Shehbaz comfortably won a majority in the newly-elected Parliament amidst sloganeering by the Opposition. Shehbaz, the consensus candidate of the PML-N and the PPP, received 201 votes in the 336-member Parliament.

It is not clear what stand opposition leader Imran Khan now holds about Kashmir issue. Khan too once talked in the same vein as Sharif, but the former PM changed his mind on several issues after he fell apart from the Pakistan army top brass two years ago.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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