He said that turning around Pakistan’s economy would be his first priority. To achieve that, he plans to boost trade and investment with the country’s neighbors, particularly China and India.
He revealed Wednesday that he’d agreed with the visiting Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, in May to construct a freight railway line from western China to the port of Gwadar on Pakistan’s southwest coast, near the mouth of the oil-rich Persian Gulf.
The project probably would aggravate India, because the line would travel through Gilgit-Baltistan, part of a mountainous region contested by India on one side and allies China and Pakistan on the other.
It probably will raise some concerns in Washington, too, but in stark contrast, Sharif’s only reference to Pakistan’s tense relationship with the U.S. was short and sour, and didn’t even mention the U.S. by name: "The chapter on drone attacks must close."
Sharif was sworn in a week after the second in command of the Pakistan Taliban, Waliur Rehman Mehsud, was killed in a CIA drone strike on a village in the tribal region of North Waziristan, a hotbed of jihadist terrorists on border with eastern Afghanistan.
By not apportioning responsibility for the drone strike, Sharif may well have been signaling his displeasure with the military, which has been blamed for initiating the strike both by militants and the cleric politicians who are gearing up to act as peace intermediaries on Sharif’s behalf. The militants withdrew their offer to parley after the strike.
In his speech to Parliament, Sharif acknowledged the burden of responsibility he now carries, promised to be honest about Pakistan’s crises and reached out to the opposition to work with him to develop a common agenda to address them.
"I won’t make false promises," Sharif said.
"Pakistan’s problems are so deep that no one party can overcome them."