Pakistan desires peaceful ties with its neighbours, including India, and will work to strengthen the dialogue process that is already under way to resolve problems like the vexed Kashmir issue, newly appointed prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Friday soon after his election by a thumping majority.
''We are standing at a critical juncture,'' he told the National Assembly in his first speech as prime minister, less than an hour after his election. ''We can either move forward or lapse backward.''
Ashraf said the economy, the power crisis and inflation were his main priorities. "Our country cannot afford the politics of confrontation at this time," he said.
"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.
Ashraf said that Pakistan intended to play a ''remarkable'' role in Afghanistan as the US begins moving toward a drawdown of troops in the war-torn country.
"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," he said. He was referring to remarks made recently by Yousuf Raza Gilani, ousted as Premier by the Supreme Court.