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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid