Pakistani army chief says it’s time to bury the past with India | Conflict News
In a rare note of conciliation, General Bajwa calls for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in Kashmir and for talks with India, his rival.
The powerful Pakistani army chief has called on his main rivals India and Pakistan to “bury the past” and move towards cooperation, an opening to New Delhi that follows an unexpected joint announcement from ceasefire last month between the armies of the two countries.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, however, stressed India’s responsibility to create an “enabling environment” and said the United States has a role to play in ending regional conflicts.
“We believe it is time to bury the past and move forward,” Bajwa said Thursday, addressing a gathering of academics and experts discussing national security issues at the time. of a seminar in the capital, Islamabad.
“But… our neighbor (India) will have to create an enabling environment, especially in Kashmir occupied by India,” he said, referring to the part of the Himalayan territory that India administers.
The unresolved disputes between the two South Asian nuclear rivals “are pushing this region back into the swamp of poverty and underdevelopment,” Bajwa said at the conference to highlight the Pakistani government’s new security policies.
There was no immediate comment from India.
The powerful Pakistani army ruled the country for almost half of its 73 years of existence, and the military has long controlled foreign and security policies.
The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India, but claimed by both in its entirety. The two countries have fought two of their three wars in Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
Relations deteriorated in 2019 after New Delhi stripped its part of Kashmir of the special status it long had under India’s constitution.
Bajwa said the economic potential of South and Central Asia was “forever held hostage” to the Indo-Pakistani disputes.
“It is important to understand that without the resolution of the dispute in Kashmir by peaceful means, the process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain liable to derail,” he said.
Bajwa’s call came after the armies of the two countries issued a rare joint statement on February 25, announcing a ceasefire along their de facto Kashmir border, known as the Line of Control ( LoC), having traded deadly gunfire hundreds of times lately. month.
The United States immediately welcomed the move and encouraged the two countries to “continue to build on this progress.”
Bajwa said Pakistan had “hope” in the form of President Joe Biden’s new administration, which he said could help facilitate peace in the region.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also spoke at the meeting, who said that “if India takes one step forward for peace, Pakistan will take two”.
He said, however, that “India has chosen to take several steps back … (with) South Asia once again on the brink”.
Pakistan wants India to overturn the 2019 ruling that New Delhi stripped Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status and imposed a series of administrative changes through new laws, sparking anger on both sides of the border.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-Indian rebels in Kashmir and also aiding them by providing gunfire to cover incursions on the Indian side, a charge Pakistan denies. Rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir have been fighting Indian rule since 1989.