Relations between India and Pakistan cannot be normalised till the Kashmir issue is resolved, said newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif.
"We can’t choose our neighbours, we have to live with them. Nawaz Sharif had extended the hand of friendship with India, but he also spoke of Kashmir. Kashmiris are being killed and till that issue is resolved, we can’t have normal relations with Bharat," said Sharif while addressing the Pakistan Parliament after being sworn in as the 23rd PM, with 174 votes.
The reference to India came towards the end of his address after he had already praised China and other countries as friends of Pakistan.
Shehbaaz went on to express his gratitude and praise for China and said they were their most dependable friend. "Our friendship with China is forever, it will never change," said Sharif.
He also said that his government will speed up projects carried out under the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
He also spoke highly of the country's ties with Saudi Arabia, where he said he and his brother Nawaz Sharif felt safe even when they were in exile. The other countries that Sharif hoped ties would strengthen included Turkey, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Afghanistan, US and EU. He also hoped of getting an extension of GSP+ status – which gives Pakistan tax benefits while trading with the EU.
The Pakistani stocks jumped 1700 points on Monday, with the announcement of the new regime.
"We are happy to know that the Pakistani rupee has firmed up by Rs 8 against the dollar today, there is every reason for optimism," Sharif added. He also announced sops for senior citizens and pensioners by announcing a hike in their monthly takeaways.
Since he is a part of the coalition that includes the Pakistan People’s Party, Sharif announced the reintroduction of Benazir Income Support Programme.
Meanwhile, just before the voting began, former Prime Minister Imran Khan submitted his resignation to the National Assembly.
Other members of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also tendered their resignations.
"Greetings to all the PTI members of the Assembly who did not sell their conscience and today under the leadership of their leader Imran Khan have tendered their resignations. Hold immediate elections and let people use their vote," tweeted Farrukh Habib, former Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting of PTI.
"The parliamentary party has decided to resign from the assemblies against the imported government," PTI Central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib confirmed in a tweet.
PTI supporters are coming out in large numbers expressing their solidarity with Imran Khan. PTI members are also hoping for byelections in the constituencies of the candidates that have resigned.