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Former Pak diplomat accuses ex-PM Nawaz Sharif of being soft on India

ISLAMABAD: A

former Pakistani diplomat has claimed that ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif had barred the foreign ministry from speaking against India and death-row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav as part of the policy of going soft on New Delhi.

Tasneem Aslam, who served for a second term as Foreign Office spokesperson from 2013 to 2017, made the claim on Sunday in an interview. “Nawaz Sharif did not want to say anything against India and Jadhav through the Foreign Office,” she claimed.

49-year-old Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017, following which India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.

Pakistan claims its security forces arrested Jadhav from Balochistan province in March 2016 after he reportedly entered the country from Iran. Aslam said the policy of going soft on India was not beneficial for the country.

“It did not benefit the country but I do not know whether it benefited his [Nawaz’s] own interests or not,” she said, alleging that the former premier had business interest with India. Replying to a question on whether Sharif’s family was pro-India, she said, “Yes. Of course.”

She said that Sharif did not meet the Hurriyat leaders when he visited India in 2014. “Usually, every prime minister of Pakistan meets Hurriyat leaders but Nawaz Sharif did not meet them when he visited India,” she said.

She also said that Sharif only talked about Kashmir in his address to the UN (in 2016), while skipping to mention India or Jadhav. She said some leaders think that appeasement towards India would work but it is difficult.

Aslam, who also worked as the Foreign Office spokesperson from 2005 to 2007 during the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf, retired form the service in 2017. Many of Sharif’s opponents had previously accused him of going soft on India but it is the first time that a former career diplomat said this on record.

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