Pakistan's Sharif sends mixed message to U.S.
RAIWIND, Pakistan — Pakistan's presumptive prime minister said on Monday that he wants good relations with the United States, but criticized American drone strikes on militants as a violation of the country's sovereignty — perhaps hinting the government's grudging compliance may change.
A devout Muslim and a populist, Nawaz Sharif is expected to supplant President Asif Ali Zardari as the international face of Pakistan following his party's resounding victory in Saturday's election. He is set to rule over a nuclear power whose increasing instability and Islamic militant havens are global concerns, especially at a time when the West is looking to end the war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Sharif, 63, often hit out at the United States in statements while lobbying for votes, and he accused the outgoing government ruled by the Pakistan People's Party of selling out the country's sovereignty in exchange for U.S. aid.
However, analysts have cautioned that while such rhetoric sells on the campaign trail in a country where anti-American sentiment is high and where the drone strikes are extremely unpopular, Sharif is likely to take a more nuanced approach to U.S. relations once in office.
Sharif reinforced that sense with his first comments since the vote about how he viewed the relationship with the United States.
“I think we have good relations with the United States of America. We certainly have to listen to each other,” said Sharif. “If there are any concerns on any side, I think we should address those concerns.”
Pakistan and the United States have had an extremely fraught relationship in recent years, especially following the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani army town in 2011.
Sharif's supporters believe his pro-business background and years of experience in government make him the right person to tackle the country's many economic woes, such as growing power cuts, painful inflation and widespread unemployment.
His stance on reining in violent Islamic extremism, however, remains uncertain.
Critics have accused his Pakistan Muslim League-N party of being soft on radicals because it hasn't cracked down on militant groups in its stronghold of Punjab province.
Even if Sharif wanted to shut down the U.S. drone program, he would have to contend with the wishes of the Pakistani army, which is considered the strongest institution and often plays a dominant role in national security.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pakistan fervent about anti-blasphemy law
- North Korea proposes joint probe over hacking attack against Sony
- Thousands in Spain protest ban on demonstrations, burning national flag
- Kurds apply pressure to Islamic State
- Liberia holds senate elections delayed by Ebola epidemic
- No movement yet on Afghan cabinet
- In Mideast, refugee babies left stateless