Islamabad: Pakistan desires peaceful ties with its neighbours, including India, and will work to strengthen the dialogue process that is already underway to resolve problems like the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister-elect Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Friday.
"We want peaceful ties with our neighbours Afghanistan, Iran and India. We desire good relations in our region on the basis of the philosophy of peaceful co-existence," Ashraf said during his first address in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament following his election.
"We are ready to strengthen the process of talks that is underway to solve all problems, include the Kashmir issue," he said while focussing on Pakistan's foreign policy and the regional situation.
Speaking less than an hour after he was elected the premier during a special session of the National Assembly, Ashraf made it clear that Pakistan intended to play a key role in neighbouring Afghanistan as the US begins moving toward a drawdown of troops in the war-torn country.
"As a responsible nation, Pakistan will continue to play its role as an enabler and facilitator of peace and stability in the region and the world," he said.
"As my predecessor said, for Pakistan, Kabul is the most important capital in the world. And it is our firm belief that until there is peace in Afghanistan, there can be no peace in Pakistan," Ashraf said while referring to remarks made recently by former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The PPP nominated Ashraf, 61, as its prime ministerial candidate after Gilani was disqualified by the Supreme Court on Tuesday due to his conviction of contempt.
Gilani was convicted and given a symbolic sentence of less than a minute by the apex court in April after he refused to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari.
During his speech, Ashraf said he would also work to strengthen Pakistan's ties with China and the Islamic world.
China, he said, had stood by Pakistan in "every difficult hour" and the relationship between the two countries was "taller than the Himalayas".
Ashraf pledged to consolidate ties with the European Union and to work to strengthen ties with the US and the world community on the basis of equality and without compromising on Pakistan's honour and sovereignty.
He thanked all the allies of the ruling Pakistan People's Party for supporting him and paid tribute to Gilani, saying his predecessor had worked to ensure the supremacy of democracy and parliament.
"We need to take the democratic set-up forward. The constitution and laws emanate from parliament, which is the last hope for the aspirations of the people," he said.
Ashraf further pledged that the next election, scheduled for early next year, would be free, fair and transparent.
The PPP does not like politics of confrontation and the country cannot afford such politics at the current juncture, when it is facing serious challenges, he said.
He invited the opposition for talks to resolve all issues facing the country and said his government would give priority to resolving the problems of the insurgency-hit Balochistan province.
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