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Friday, December 9, 2022

‘Good opportunity’: Mehbooba on Gen Bajwa’s peace offer to India

Calling Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s peace offer to India a ‘good opportunity’, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said both countries could curtail their ‘huge military budgets to eradicate poverty.

“A good opportunity for India & Pakistan to set aside hostilities & find a long-lasting solution vis-a-vis Kashmir,” Mehbooba said in a tweet.

Gen Bajwa’s remarks came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan made a similar statement.

“Both countries have huge military budgets to outdo each other when the same resources can instead be used on common challenges like poverty, education & healthcare,” she added.

As he asserted that the peace between the two neighbours would help to “unlock” the potential of South and Central Asia, Gen
Bajwa said on Thursday that it was time for India and Pakistan to “bury the past and move forward”.

Addressing a session of the first-ever Islamabad Security Dialogue in Islamabad, Gen Bajwa also said that the potential for regional peace and development always remained hostage to the disputes and issues between Pakistan and India – the two “nuclear-armed neighbours”.

“We feel it is time to bury the past and move forward,” he said, adding that the responsibility for a meaningful dialogue rested with India.

“Our neighbour will have to create a conducive environment, particularly” in Kashmir, Gen Bajwa said, adding that any effort to improve ties without addressing the core issue would be vulnerable to external political factors.

“The Kashmir issue is at the heart of this. It is important to understand that without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, the process will always remain susceptible to derailment to politically motivated bellicosity,” he said.

The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.

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