New Delhi: A stable relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad is key to unlocking the potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said Thursday.
He was addressing Pakistan’s first-ever Islamabad Security Dialogue, a two-day initiative organised by the country’s National Security Division in collaboration with its advisory board, comprising five think-tanks.
“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, Bajwa said, the process of “sub-continental rapprochement” will always be susceptible to derailment due to “politically motivated bellicosity”.
“However, we feel that it is time to bury the past and move forward,” he added.
Pakistan’s commitment to peaceful and dignified dialogue in resolving disputes is a choice of rationality and not as a result of any pressure, he added.
On Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had also addressed the Islamabad Security Dialogue, which is aimed at devising a holistic strategic road map for the nation in line with the premier’s vision.
He said India will benefit economically by having peace with Pakistan as it will provide New Delhi direct access to resource-rich Central Asia region. However, he added, it is up to India to take the first step.
Last month, the Ministry of External Affairs had said New Delhi desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and is committed to resolving all issues bilaterally in a peaceful manner.
On 24 February, India and Pakistan issued a joint statement agreeing to strictly observe the 2003 ceasefire agreement at the border, “in the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders”.
Pakistan’s statements on India drew a mixed response from experts.
“This change in Pakistan’s behaviour, which notably comes after India and Pakistan’s recommitment to ceasefire agreement, is a good initiative,” said Lt Gen. Vinod Bhatia (retd), India’s former director general of military operations.
“More importantly, it’s a strategic imperative. After J&K’s special status was revoked in August 2019, Pakistan refused any dialogue with India. But as India’s stature has risen, Islamabad has taken note of it.”
Sushant Sareen, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in India, called the statements from Pakistan’s Army chief and Prime Minister an “image-building exercise”.
Pakistan has faced global scrutiny over its role with respect to terrorists and terrorist organisations that operate from its soil. Last month, the terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) lauded Pakistan’s progress but retained it on its grey list as three of the 27 goals set for the country remain unfulfilled.
Also Read: Behind Pakistan’s talks offer to India lies a Khan-Bajwa plan
Bajwa’s CPEC ‘contradiction’
During his speech, Bajwa also spoke on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a collection of infrastructure projects that have been under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013 under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“CPEC has been at the heart of our economic transformation plan and we have left no quarter to declare its necessity for addressing our economic woes,” he said.
However, he added: “Let me also emphasise that while CPEC remains central to our vision, only seeing Pakistan through CPEC prism is also misleading.”
CPEC remains a major irritant for India since it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).
The two remarks made by Bajwa with respect to CPEC constitute a contradiction, experts said.
“Pakistan has been trying to sell the lemon called CPEC which is increasingly unviable. Many countries try to please Pakistan by expressing an interest in CPEC but no one has yet invested a single penny in it,” said Sareen. “With no other cards on the table, how is it possible not to view Pakistan through the prism of CPEC?”
Edited by Sunanda Ranjan
Also Read: India, Pakistan agree to observe ceasefire along LoC, pull back specialised offensive units
Pakistan’s commitment to peaceful and dignified dialogue in resolving disputes is a choice of rationality and that rationality will be expedited as the free flowing money from US, GULF and CHINA dries up.
After post 370 and 35A the only thing to resolve is the POK and it will resolve itself when it becomes financially untenable for Pakistan to sustain.
The no talks with terror policy is working, so why makes concessions?
Every reasonable Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi will desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and the first test of it will be complete stop to terror support.
Sometimes I pity the 20m poor people held hostage by mullahs and the military. Mullahs do it with the soft (religion) power and the military fires the shots from all sides! The looming threat of the big boots makes pursuing politics as a serious career option a waste of time. So, the system never allowed a tall leader to emerge. Whatever Nawaz Sharif as a politician could manufacture out of the system, in that sense, is remarkable. Education largely mirrors the madrasa model, albeit with English as a language option. Whatever is left of the economy after the military budget allocation goes towards servicing the IMF loans. Sooner, the Chinese will be taking their cuts too. Meanwhile, the deep assets have had their successful run – from Afghanistan to Kashmir.
With even countries like Bangladesh leaping ahead, and the Arab world minding their own (oil-less future) business, this Bajwa man has to talk peace. Up until he can find someone to underwrite all the debts! Uncle Sam had had enough of it though.
74 years of time in the history are lost by Pakistan; on day dreaming about Kashmir. Military and politicians kept Kashmir pot boiling.Focus on Kashmir led them to war and terrorism. Ultimately they are facing FATF and bankruptcy.
What else can be the fate of a nation who sheltered Osama Bin Laden?
PAK ARMY is the real “KALADAN TANJIM ” of pakistan. Terror organisations like LET N JEM are a mask to take blame away from PAK ARMY’s terror activities. Let’s not forget 2000 HINDU woman are raped and forcefully converted and men enslaved in pakistan. This mentallity is very much part of every pakistanis existential ideology.
China is now paying millions of dollars in bribes to top PAK ARMY officials. Who than use the money to settle their family abroad.
Top journalist like Najam sethi or Raza Rumi and all similar journalist have been on record supporting jihadist activities against INDIA.
We must accept the fact that with BJP under MODIJI has now decided to retaliate against terrorism emanating from pakistan.
Pakistan along with china had now decided to use jihadist and ultra left wing radicals in INDIA instead of fighting INDIA directly.
Coming years are going to be tough with a highly radicalized minority opposing modern scienctific education and population control measures it’s a difficult but a necessary fight if INDIA has to survive and prosper.
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