Washington: Hoping that the US would follow a policy of non-discrimination in fields like civil nuclear cooperation, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said Pakistan would continue to maintain a minimum credible nuclear deterrence.
"Pakistan remains fully committed to protecting its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. Without engaging in an arms race, Pakistan will maintain credible minimum deterrence to ensure regional security and stability, Sharif said.
"We would nevertheless consistently pursue the goals of disarmament on a non-discriminating basis. It is our hope that the US would follow an even handed and non-discriminating approach in fields like civil nuclear cooperation," Sharif said in his address to the think tank US Institute of Peace.
He said it is his endeavor to approach this important US-Pak relationship with an open and fresh mind, leaving behind the baggage of trust deficit and mutual suspicions.
"Instead, cooperation in key areas, including trade, investment, energy, technology, education and agriculture, under the rubric of strategic dialogue should be the main plan of our partnership," he said.
"As large democracies, there should be greater interaction between our two countries, not only at the parliamentary but through exchange of businessmen, students, opinion makers and tourism, as these will help remove many of our misperceptions," Sharif said.
He said "the revival of the economy is the key to progress across the entire spectrum of challenges that we are facing today - from terrorism and extremism to development of our social sector. It is also an essential prerequisite for strengthening democracy and the rule of law."
He said the traditionally strong ties at the military level should also be reinvigorated. The vibrant community of Pakistani-Americans is playing an important role in bringing our two nations closer, he said.
Sharif expressed hopes that the international community will support Pakistan in dealing with its economic crisis, not in terms of any aid, other ways too, like the US opening its doors to promote trade in America.
He said Pakistan is determined to address challenges posed by a weak economy while recognising the urgency of focusing on the energy sector, which has hampered the national growth.
"Major reforms have already been introduced to ensure sound macroeconomic policies, to reduce budgetary deficits, ensure balance of payment, curb inflationary pressure and reduce the dependence on foreign loans and assistance."
"We`re also engaged in efforts to bring half a million new taxpayers into the tax net. These measures should enhance the tax-to-GDP ratio from the current low of nine per cent to 15 per cent by 2018," Sharif said.
He invited the US private sector to join in efforts for sustained economic growth and development.