News / Asia

Pakistan PM: Economy Tops Foreign Policy Agenda

Newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif (L) arrives at the Prime Minister''s house to review guards of honor in Islamabad, June 5, 2013.
Newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif (L) arrives at the Prime Minister''s house to review guards of honor in Islamabad, June 5, 2013.
Sharon Behn
Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has laid out the basic guidelines of his country’s foreign policy, and growing the national economy is at the top of his agenda - an emphasis that may affect Pakistan’s relations with the international community.
 
Sharif, in his first public foreign policy directive since taking office, has told Pakistan’s diplomatic missions around the world to turn their focus to aiding the economic growth of the nation.

According to Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Choudhry, Prime Minister Sharif’s priorities for now are internal and economic.
 
“The prime minister directed our missions abroad to aggressively pursue economic diplomacy [including the] promotion of Pakistan’s interests in the realms of trade, foreign investment, and economic cooperation,” he said.

A gas-lamp is seen at a fruit stall during a power outage in Rawalpindi, June 3, 2013.A gas-lamp is seen at a fruit stall during a power outage in Rawalpindi, June 3, 2013.
x
A gas-lamp is seen at a fruit stall during a power outage in Rawalpindi, June 3, 2013.
A gas-lamp is seen at a fruit stall during a power outage in Rawalpindi, June 3, 2013.
Pakistan is suffering from a deep economic crisis, with severe energy shortages, inflation and unemployment. Sharif has vowed to resolve the energy problems, which have led some areas to experience power cuts of more than 12 hours a day.
 
Retired general and analyst Talat Masood welcomed Sharif’s policy direction, saying,  “His thrust to improve the energy situation as a first priority is very correct, because truly speaking unless the energy situation in Pakistan improves, there is no hope whatsoever of the economy reviving.”

Sharif’s instructions were thin on tough foreign policy issues, such as relations with the Unites States, Afghanistan and rival India. Former ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said those details will likely emerge over time.
 
“Here is a prime minister who will focus on the domestic economy. I don’t think he’s going to spend as much time, certainly in the initial phase, on foreign policy except to do what is necessary,” she said.

But, she added, he will not be able to ignore the critical security-related foreign policy issues, such as Afghanistan, for very long.
 
Persuading Washington to end its controversial drone attacks on militant targets in northwest Pakistan was among Sharif’s top commitments in the lead-up to the May 11 elections. The United States insists the strikes have weakened al-Qaida and Taliban militant networks there.

Islamabad will work to build consensus with Washington, said the spokesman.

“We will build on convergences and wherever there are divergences we will work to try to minimize and remove such divergence,” he added.

Masood said Sharif’s dramatic comeback via the ballot box after being deposed by the army and sent into exile almost 14 years ago has boosted his credibility, and may help him take political risks that other politicians have not been willing to take. But as yet, it is too early to tell if Pakistan’s foreign policy will change dramatically under his five-year tenure.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid