Nawaz Sharif’s response to Modi: 'Can't end poverty with tanks'
Nawaz Sharif’s response to Modi: 'Can't end poverty with tanks'

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today hit back at his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying poverty cannot be eradicated by "driving tanks on farmlands" and once again needled India by calling Hizbul commander Burhan Wani a "son of the Kashmiri soil". 

Sharif attempted to respond to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s taunt asking Pakistan to battle India on who can eradicate poverty and illiteracy first. "They want us to compete with them to end poverty. They should realize that poverty will not end if tanks are being driven through farmlands," Sharif said.

Sharif, while addressing a joint session of the Parliament convened to discuss the security situation in the wake of increasing Indo-Pak tensions, accused India of running away from dialogue and instead creating a war-like environment by blaming Pakistan for the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed last month. 

"We have done everything to make India come to the dialogue table, but India did not let it happen. Our efforts were thwarted over and over again," Sharif claimed. 

"Without any investigation (into Uri incident), within a few hours, India blamed Pakistan for the attack," he said. 

Sharif accused India of having some "motives" in blaming Pakistan for the Uri attack when it was "not even established" that who was involved in it. 

He also maintained to the joint session his government's line that the Indian military had not crossed the LoC and had not conducted any strikes. "India's ceasefire violation resulted in the death of two of our soldiers. We gave a fitting response to this, and conveyed that the Pakistan Army is fully capable and prepared to respond to any aggression," he said.

He again mentioned Wani in his speech. 

"The death of Burhan Wani, son of the Kashmiri soil, had reminded India to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination," Sharif said. 

Raking up Kashmir at the UN General Assembly, Sharif had called Wani a "young leader", evoking a strong reaction from India. 

Reiterating that Pakistan wanted peace, he said, "We want dialogue on all issues including Kashmir. We will walk this well-thought path, but the desire for peace should be considered a respectable nation's desire."

Opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah, of the PPP, lashed out at the Sharif government's diplomatic failures. "India openly says they are going to isolate Pakistan. We have to ask ourselves why our foreign policy is so weak, why Pakistan feels isolated in the international arena. The SAARC Summit is an example," he said.

"Five countries refused to attend the summit. We should have anticipated and countered this. Also, two of the countries that pulled out were Muslim countries. Afghanistan and Bangladesh continue to grow further apart from us," Shah added.

India later rebutted Nawaz Sharif's comments eulogizing Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani and his ridicule of Modi's statement, issuing a challenge to Pakistan to win the war against poverty.

Sharif's comments, government sources said, shows Pakistan's continued attachment to terrorism. "Those who provide safe havens and training to terrorists are no less guilty," tweeted the foreign ministry, quoting junior foreign minister MJ Akbar, who is currently attending a conference in Belgium's capital Brussels.

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