Pakistan Army chief calls for India and Pakistan ‘to bury the past and move forward’ a day after Imran Khan batted for peace with India

Published : March 19, 2021 13:10 IST

Pakistan’s Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, a file photograph. Photo: AFP

In a significant development, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on March 18 called for peace with India, saying that it was time for the two nuclear-armed countries to “bury the past and move forward”.

General Bajwa, like his country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan did on March 17, stressed the untapped economic potential in the resources-rich Central Asia. He emphasised that peace in the region would invariably translate into better trade ties in the region and an economic spill-over for all.

“This potential [of South and Central Asia], however, has forever remained hostage to disputes and issues between two nuclear neighbours. Kashmir dispute is obviously at the head of this problem,” he said.

Without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, General Bajwa said, the process of “sub-continental rapprochement” will always be susceptible to derailment because of “politically motivated bellicosity”.

“However,” he said, “we feel that it is time to bury the past and move forward.” He was talking at Islamabad Security Dialogue, a two-day event conducted by the country’s National Security Division in collaboration with its advisory board comprising five think-tanks.

However, General Bajwa, like Imran Khan, put the onus on initiating peace on India.

India, on its part, stated last month that while it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan, it was Pakistan’s responsibility to act on terror groups operating from its soil and help foster an environment free of “terror, hostility and violence”.

On March 17, Imran Khan said if peace was given a chance, India and the entire neighbourhood in South Asia could leverage economic dividends through trade in the resources-rich Central Asian region. Khan’s statement assumed significance as India and Pakistan have recently announced a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC).

Khan made the comment while delivering the inaugural address at the launch of the Islamabad Security Dialogue. He said his government had done everything possible to forge better ties with India and that it was for India to reciprocate.

Importantly, Imran Khan said that peace in the region was contingent on resolving the Kashmir conflict, describing it as the “biggest hurdle” between the two nuclear-armed nations.