Islamabad: Pakistan's incoming PML-N government will play its part to lower tensions with India and to normalise relations between the two countries, says a top aide of Prime Minister-designate Nawaz Sharif.
Sartaj Aziz, widely expected to be appointed as advisor on foreign and economic affairs, noted that Sharif had already said that his government would pick up from where the peace process was left before the 1999 military coup by then army chief Pervez Musharraf.
The PML-N government "will do its part to lower tensions with New Delhi and normalise relations", Aziz said.
The new government's overall foreign policy will remain the same though it will try to ensure the proper implementation of the policy, he said.
"Our policy will be to ensure peace and to decrease extremist threats (so) we can set an agenda to improve the economy. At the same time, we will not compromise on our basic foreign policy principles. So it will need thorough thinking and consultations in parliament to evolve consensus," Aziz said.
On the issue of dialogue with the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Aziz noted that Sharif had already said that his government will hold talks only with groups that "accept Pakistan’s constitution and democratic system".
"It is premature to say whether or not we will talk to a certain group," he said. "The PML-N government will formulate a formal policy after consulting all stakeholders, and this will take some time," he added
Aziz said Pakistan will play its role for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. "Pakistan will do whatever it can for Afghan peace as instability in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on Pakistan."
Aziz said it was impossible to choose between a stable economy and an astute foreign policy as both are equally important and equally indispensable.
"Focusing on economic revival will help us increase exports and reduce expenditures," he said.
"Only then can Pakistan present a strong case before the International Monetary Fund," said Aziz, who has served as finance and foreign minister in the past.
"It is unlikely that the PML-N leader will approach the IMF in two to three months. We will decide upon this later."
Economic revival can help strengthen Pakistan internally and pave the way for better relations globally. "We will focus on economic development to attract investment. This will help improve relations with other
countries," he said.
The growing power crisis has dealt a major blow to Pakistan’s moribund economy and the PML-N has framed plans to overcome the problem. "This is part of our comprehensive economic plan. Several groups are working on it and we will make announcements during the coming budget," he said.