After Saudi-Iran trips, PM boasts of Pakistan’s ‘improved image’

ISLAMABAD: Taking his cabinet into confidence over his recent visits to Saudi Arabia and Iran, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday said Pakistan’s image abroad had improved due to the ‘untiring efforts’ of his diplomatic team, a statement released from the PM’s office said.

In what was described as a significant diplomatic mission, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif last week met the Saudi and Iranian leaderships in their respective capitals for what the government described as a move to defuse tensions between the two Muslim countries that were sparked by execution of Saudi dissident Sheikh Nimr and the subsequent attack on a Saudi mission in Iran by protesters.

But despite the premier’s claims, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir denied that Pakistan mediated between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain’s state media had reported on January 25.

The premier, who also attended the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on his way back from Iran, claimed that due to the efforts of the government’s economic team, business leaders and communities across the world are eyeing the country positively.

While reiterating his government’s resolve to continue the fight against terror till the elimination of the last terrorist, Nawaz claimed the country was on the right track to become a peaceful and prosperous state.

But his government’s anti-terror policy, popularly known as the National Action Plan (NAP), came under severe criticism after militants breached the security of a university in Charsadda and shot dead 21 people including students and professors.

The NAP, which was formulated after the brutal attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed 144 people, has been criticised by the opposition and experts, who say no major progress has been made since the policy’s implementation – an allegation that was reiterated after the Charsadda varsity attack.

During today’s cabinet meeting, the PM was briefed in detail about the attack on the Bacha Khan University and the progress on the investigation so far.

The meeting was attended by Federal Ministers Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Pervaiz Rashid, Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Saad Rafique, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant Syed Tariq Fatemi, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, Irfan Siddiqui, Dr Asif Kirmani and retired Captain Muhammad Safdar.

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