Pakistani Prime Minister wants to strengthen ties with Russia

KEY POINTS

  • Shehbaz Sharif aims to reset and strengthen Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Russia: official
  • Pakistani PM also plans to restore ties with European Union and United States
  • Shehbaz ascended to the post of prime minister after parliament ousted Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have exchanged letters in recent weeks where they discussed possible closer relations between their countries, according to a report.

The exchange of letters began after Putin wrote a letter to Shehbaz congratulating him on being elected Pakistan’s 23rd prime minister on April 11. The Russian president has also expressed his desire to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, an official from Pakistan’s foreign ministry with knowledge of the talks told The Express Tribune.

According to the official, Shehbaz responded later, thanking Putin for congratulating him. He also expressed similar sentiments on deepening bilateral relations between the two countries and cooperation on Afghanistan.

the International business time cannot independently verify the exchange of letters between Putin and Shehbaz.

Resetting and strengthening ties with Russia was a decision taken by Pakistan a long time ago. However, the Shehbaz Sharif government also aims to restore ties with the European Union and the West, particularly with the United States, according to Foreign Ministry officials.

The exchange of letters comes after Shehbaz, 70, was elected by Pakistan’s parliament after cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was ousted as prime minister in a no-confidence vote. Shehbaz won the seat after securing 174 votes, just two more than the required simple majority.

His rise to the post of prime minister marks the return of the Sharif family as one of Pakistan’s most powerful political dynasties. Nawaz Sharif, his brother, served as Prime Minister of Pakistan three times between 1990 and 2017.

Shehbaz himself served as chief minister of Punjab three times. He first worked in the family business before entering the political scene in 1988. He was first elected Chief Minister of Punjab in 1997 before the Sharif family went into exile following a military coup in 1999 that led to his brother’s ousting. Shehbaz returned to Pakistan in 2007 and was again elected Chief Minister of Punjab.

He was re-elected Chief Minister of Punjab in 2013.

The Sharif family had been at the center of a scandal in 2017 after they were named in the Pandora Papers leak, which revealed the owners of offshore companies and secret bank accounts. Nawaz was removed from office and tried for corruption allegations. Shehbaz has also been accused of corruption over the years. However, he was never found guilty by the court.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (white suit) leaves a meeting in Karachi the day after he was sworn in Photo: AFP / Asif HASSAN

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