The 70-year-old leader, who replaced Imran Khan after a high voltage political tussle, said he wanted good relations with India, but it cannot be achieved without the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
He said that neighbours are not a matter of choice, it is something we have to live with and unfortunately Pakistan’s ties with India were never good since its inception.
He attacked Khan for not making “serious and diplomatic efforts” when India abrogated the Article 370 in August 2019.
“When the forceful encroachment was done in August 2019 and Article 370 was abrogated, what serious efforts did we make…what serious diplomacy did we try…Kashmiris’ blood is flowing on roads of Kashmir and the Kashmir Valley is red with their blood,” said Shehbaz, the younger brother of former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
He expressed a desire for better ties but with India linked it with the Kashmir issue.
“We want good ties with India but durable peace is not possible until the Kashmir dispute is resolved,” he said, adding that Pakistan would continue to provide political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of Kashmir.
“We will raise voice for Kashmiris brothers and sisters at every forum. We will give them diplomatic and moral support,” he added.
Shehbaz also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come forward to address the Kashmir issue so that the two countries could concentrate on tackling poverty, unemployment, shortage of medicines and other issues.
“Why do we want our coming generations to suffer. Come, let’s resolve the Kashmir issue in line with UN resolutions and Kashmiris’ expectations, so that we are able to end poverty on both sides of the border,” he added.
Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in the neighbouring country. Subsequent attacks, including one on an Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship.
The relationship deteriorated after India announced withdrawing the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories in August 2019.
India’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 outraged Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad.
It also snapped all air and land links with India and suspended trade and railway services.
India has said that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility, and violence. India has said the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility.
With inputs from NDTV