Pakistan’s new PM Shahbaz Sharif rakes up Kashmir, Palestine issues in maiden speech

Shahbaz Sharif speech

Islamabad: Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday made his maiden speech to the National Assembly, where he raised the contentious issues of Kashmir and Palestine and urged the world to end its silence on the plight of the people in these regions. Sharif, who is the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the younger brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif, also vowed to improve relations with all major countries, including neighbors but did not mention India or Afghanistan by name.

Sharif compares Kashmir with Palestine, calls for freedom

Sharif, who was elected as the PM on Sunday after securing 176 votes against the opposition candidate Yousaf Raza Gilani’s 169 votes, said that he was speaking from the heart and not from a written script. He said that he was deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza and Kashmir, where he claimed that innocent people were being killed and oppressed by Israel and India respectively.

Sharif compared the struggle of the Kashmiris and the Palestinians for their right to self-determination and said that they deserved freedom and justice. He said that the world should not remain silent on the human rights violations and atrocities committed by the occupying forces in these regions. He said that the National Assembly should pass a resolution to express solidarity with the Kashmiris and the Palestinians and to demand an end to the aggression and occupation.

Sharif did not mention the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has claimed over 29,000 lives, mostly women and children, according to Gazan authorities (backed by Hamas). He also did not acknowledge the role of Pakistan-based militant groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, in fomenting violence and terrorism in Kashmir.

Sharif promises to improve ties with major countries but skips India, Afghanistan

Sharif, who is known for his pro-business and development-oriented policies, also said that he would work to improve Pakistan’s economy, governance, and security. He said that he would pursue a foreign policy that would enhance Pakistan’s image and respect in the world. He said that he would seek to improve relations with all major countries, especially those in the region, and to promote peace and cooperation.

However, Sharif did not mention India or Afghanistan by name, two of Pakistan’s most important and troubled neighbors. He did not address the longstanding issues of cross-border terrorism, trade, and dialogue with India, nor did he comment on the recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have seized control of most of the country after the withdrawal of US and NATO forces.

Sharif’s omission of India and Afghanistan in his speech may indicate his reluctance to engage with these countries, given the strained ties and the complex dynamics involved. Sharif may also face pressure from the powerful military establishment, which has a major say in Pakistan’s foreign and security policy, and which has often been accused of supporting anti-India and pro-Taliban elements.

Shahbaz Sharif speech

Sharif’s speech may also reflect the influence of his brother Nawaz Sharif, who is currently living in exile in London after being convicted of corruption charges. Nawaz Sharif has been critical of the military’s interference in politics and has advocated for a peaceful and democratic resolution of the Kashmir issue with India. Nawaz Sharif has also been supportive of the peace process in Afghanistan and has called for a regional consensus to end the war.