Qamar Javed Bajwa had said earlier also that peace between the two neighbours would help unlock the potential of South and Central Asia (File image courtesy: Twitter/@OfficialDGISPR)
With Imran Khan, the chief obstacle to a rapprochement with India on his way out, Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has called for a dialogue to resolve all disputes with India. He signalled that Pakistan is ready to move forward if India agrees to do so.
"Pakistan continues to believe that dialogue and diplomacy can solve the longstanding disputes like Kashmir dispute & Indo-China border dispute,” General Bajwa said in his keynote address in a conference organised in Islamabad on Saturday.
Speaking at the event Bajwa said that Pakistan is located at the crossroads of economic and strategic confronts.
Bajwa also reiterated that Pakistan does not believe in camp politics and our bilateral relations with our partners are not at the expense of our relationships with other countries.
“We share a long history of excellent relationship with the United States which remains our largest export market; UK/EU vital to our national interests; Russian aggression on Ukraine is very unfortunate, this is a huge tragedy,” Bajwa said.
It may be recalled that exactly one year ago, last year in the first edition of the Islamabad Security Dialogue, General Bajwa had said that it was time for India and Pakistan to "bury the past and move forward". He has asserted that peace between the two neighbours would help to "unlock" the potential of South and Central Asia.
"We feel it is time to bury the past and move forward," he said.
Earlier, India and Pakistan had announced on February 25 that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors. This ceasefire agreement between their top military commanders came months after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his counterpart in Islamabad initiated back-channel conversations to ensure peace along the borders.
Previously Pakistan had conditioned the start of talks with India if it reversed the August, 2019 steps in Kashmir, but in March 2021, Gen Bajwa lowered the bar by saying that India should create a conducive environment. Few days later, on March 31, Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), a top decision-making body, lifted a ban on the import of sugar and cotton from India.
But it was withdrawn as quickly as it was announced. Reversing the order, PM Imran Khan, seeking to forge an anti-India Islamic front with countries such as Turkey and Malaysia, made it clear that “there can be no normalisation of relations with India until reversal of changes made by India in J&K before resuming trade.
The COAS was speaking during the Islamabad Security Dialogue 2022 where he said that Pakistan believes in resolving Kashmir issue through talks and diplomacy.
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It was the first time that Imran Khan made it clear that he doesn't share the vision of Gen. Bajwa or army as an institution for freezing the Kashmir issue and moving forward to normalise relations with India to strengthen Pakistan's economy.
The Friday Times' veteran Editor-in-Chief Najam Sethi, pointed out that the Army Chief, a big picture reader, had understood that cooling military tensions with India was necessary to stop the fragile Pakistani economy going into free fall. He stressed that the General was “trying to ease tensions with India and “normalise.”
And as this happens for Pakistani politicians to use the Kashmir issue and anti-India rhetoric for their survival, Imran Khan followed the same. But General Bajwa, unlike his predecessors, does not want Pakistan Army to force multiply tensions with India and is, instead, in favour of diplomatically engaging India as it feels that the Kashmir issue has lost juice strategically as well as politically.
Now Imran Khan is on the verge of being kicked out of his premiership, and Shehbaz Sharif is likely to be the prime minister candidate of the united opposition. This will be followed by the return of Nawaz Sharif and Sharif. Bajwa apparently shares the same vision as the senior Sharif, of resolving problems with India.
The “neutral” military establishment will pursue Bajwa’s vision on the India-Pakistan relations. General Bajwa has once again been trying to restart the process by indicating that only dialogue and diplomacy can lead to normalise the relations between two neighbours – India and Pakistan.