Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the country is ready to hold “peaceful and meaningful discussions” with India to address all serious and outstanding issues. The PM made the comments at the inaugural session of the Pakistan Minerals Summit in Islamabad on August 1, 2023.
Sharif expressed that communication was key if Pakistan and India were to be “normal neighbours”. His comments come a little over a month since India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar said India couldn’t have normal relations with Pakistan until they shun the policy of cross-border terrorism.
"We are prepared to talk with everyone, even with our neighbour, provided the neighbour is serious to talk serious matters on the table because war is no more an option,” the Prime Minister said, in a discernible reference to India, as per media reports.
Bilateral relations between India-Pakistan have remained strained since August 5, 2019, when the Narendra Modi government bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. Sharif said relations would not become normal until the “abnormalities” are removed and “serious issues are understood.”
Tâ€‹he Pakistani leader also spoke about the history of war between India and Pakistan saying it impacted the overall well-being of both countries and the people. India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, with the latter having a larger arsenal. While the countries have not engaged in nuclear warfare with each other yet, experts have predicted that the ongoing tensions could reach a point where things are escalated beyond the use of conventional weapons.
India has declared a No First Use policy meaning it will never use nuclear weapons first if a conflict arises. While Pakistan has not declared the same, in his recent address, “War is no longer an option,” Sharif said stressing that “Pakistan is a nuclear power, not for aggression but for our defence purposes.”â€‹