Shahbaz Sharif says talks, not war, the way to resolve issues

Shahbaz SharifShahbaz Sharif at Jama Masjid on Thursday. (Ravi Kanojia)

Stressing war is not an option to resolve issues, Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province and brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, made a strong pitch for resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan for peaceful resolution of contentious issues. In a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Thursday, he gave his views on Sir Creek, Siachen, water sharing and Kashmir and backed talks to resolve issues.

Shahbaz also delivered a goodwill message from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Shahbaz said, "I told him that trade and commerce have to be combined with strategic issues...exchange of cultural troupes is not enough."

"We have to resolve problems through talks...not an option to brush problems under the carpet...have to address them (problems)," he said.

He said they discussed disturbances on the Line of Control, referring to over 200 ceasefire violations this year. On the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) level talks, he said, "We are ready for the meeting, we have no problems, we agreed it should be held as soon as possible."

Responding to a question on terrorism affecting bilateral ties, Sharif said, "Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism, we obviously condemn all forms of terrorism, we should cooperate in facing the menace and stem it."

Shahbaz is second in command in Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). The meeting is significant and comes after the disappointment over lack of progress made after talks with Nawaz Sharif in New York in September.

Shahbaz was accompanied by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan and Provincial Minister for Education Rana Mashood Khan and High Commissioner Salman Bashir.

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