Ahead of crucial talks with his Indian counterpart, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said he was ousted from power in a military coup in 1999 because he started peace talks with India.
Sharif made these remarks in his address to the Pakistani American community in New York, where he is to attend the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.
He said he was "ousted from power" by the military leadership during his last stint as premier because he had initiated a process of peace and friendship with India. "What mistake did I make?" he asked the audience, adding he is committed to peace with India and Afghanistan.
Sharif was ousted from power in 1999 when then army chief Pervez Musharraf led a military coup against his government after the two developed differences in the wake of the Kargil conflict.
The Pakistani leader said he believed that if there is peace in Afghanistan and India, there will be peace in Pakistan too.
In his address, Sharif is believed to have told the Pakistani American community that his government, which was voted to power with an overwhelming majority in May, favours peace and a policy of non-interference with India and Afghanistan.
At the same time, Pakistan expects its neighbours not to interfere in its affairs, he said. "It is only then that long-term peace and stability in the region can be achieved," he said.
Sharif also called for a reasonable curb on defence expenditure in the region, which he acknowledged is very high.