Pakistan Army Chief Urges Delhi To Improve Relations With Islamabad; Said ‘It’s Time To Forget Past’

by Shatakshi Gupta

These days, the statements coming from power corridors of Islamabad are quite unusual. First PM Imran Khan and now Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa have talked about friendship with India and offered to resolve every issue pending between the two countries through bilateral negotiations. 

General Bajwa made the offer at an event called Islamabad Dialogue in Islamabad where many diplomatic experts and ambassadors from India and abroad were present. This is the third offer from General Bajwa in the last two months. But this time he was more affirmative. In this context, let us understand the meaning of these changed rhythms of Pakistan.

What Imran Khan has said?                      

Imran Khan has made two statements recently about improving relations with India.  On the other hand, there has been no official response from India regarding these statements at the political level. Albeit, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has officially shown a positive response.

General Bajwa’s ardour for improving the relationship

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General Bajwa said, “let me say this clearly that we want to resolve all the contentious issues with our neighbours through dialogue and in a dignified way. We also want to clarify that we are adopting this option in a logical manner, not under any pressure. We are serious about improving the image of Pakistan at the international level and moving forward as a peaceful country.” He further said, “Our leadership also wants that we can forget the past and move towards a new future. But it will also depend on the behaviour of another country. A good relationship between India and Pakistan is very important.”

General Bajwa that a stable Indo-Pak relationship is very important to extract the full potential of the South-Asian and Central-Asian region. According to him, both can start working on connectivity projects in South and Central Asia. But, hitherto this capability is not being exploited because two nuclear-powered nations are at loggerheads.

What did he say on the Kashmir issue?

On the Kashmir issue, General Bajwa further said that it is imperative to understand that whatever efforts will be made to establish peace in the region without finding a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem by peaceful measures, there will be a risk of failure due to political reasons. We feel that it is time to move forward by forgetting the past. But for any peaceful negotiation,our neighbouring country must have to create the right environment for this, especially in occupied Kashmir.

Why this sudden change of heart?

This is the first time when together with the head of the Government of Pakistan, the Chief of Army Staff is also talking about improving relations with India. Experts are saying that this change in the attitude of Pakistan is due to its poor economic conditions dovetailed with the power shift in America. Islamabad wants to show Washington that it is serious aboutterrorism and peace in the region.

By putting a peace proposal on the table with India, Pakistan is also trying to allay America’s fears about Afghanistan. Notably, the statements came before the US Defence Minister Lloyd Austin’s visit to India. This is the first visit of any dignitary of Biden’s administration to India.