As he asserted that the peace between the two neighbours would help to “unlock” the potential of South and Central Asia, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed 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.
Gen Bajwa’s remarks came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan made a similar statement at the same venue.
Prime Minister Khan said on Wednesday said India will be benefitted economically by having peace with Pakistan as it will enable New Delhi to directly access the resource-rich Central Asia region through Pakistani territory.
“India will have to take the first step. Unless they do so, we cannot do much,” Khan said while delivering the inaugural address at the launch of the two-day Dialogue.
Central Asia, in the modern context, generally includes five resource-rich countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Gen Bajwa also that peace between Pakistan and India would help to “unlock the potential of South and Central Asia” by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia.
Though both Prime Minister Khan and Gen Bajwa didn’t specify the minimum steps that India should take many experts in Pakistan to believe that some positive measures in Kashmir could ease pressure on the Pakistan government before entering into talks or restoring the normal diplomatic ties.
India last month said that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence. India has said the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility.