SEPT 28- Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, said he looks forward to meeting with his Indian counterpart, Dr Manmohan Singh, to “make a new beginning” in the relationship between the two nations.
Mr Sharif is expected to meet Dr Singh on Sunday, on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN.
It will be their first meeting since Mr Sharif was re-elected in May – his third term as premier, but his first since he was ousted in a 1999 coup.
Mr Sharif also said Pakistan and India have wasted massive resources on an arms race.
“Pakistan and India can prosper together, and the entire region would benefit from our cooperation. We stand ready to re-engage with India in a substantive and purposeful dialogue,” Mr Sharif told the General Assembly.
He also took aim at US drone strikes against Islamic militants on Pakistani soil, calling it a violation of the nation’s territorial integrity and one that kills civilians and hurts efforts to combat extremism.
Mr Sharif had conciliatory words for Afghanistan, which accuses Pakistan of supporting Taliban rebels. “We have no favourites” in the neighbouring country, Mr Sharif said. He said Pakistan had lost 40,000 lives to terrorism in the past 12 years and would use “all means at our disposal” to fight it.
Mr Sharif’s ambitions to improve relations with India and Afghanistan are driven by the need to fight militancy at home and revive Pakistan’s stricken economy. But an increase in violence in Kashmir threatens his peace efforts with India.
On Thursday, three terrorists killed 10 Indians in Jammu – an attack that the top elected official there said was aimed at derailing the meeting of Mr Sharif and Dr Singh in New York.