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'Time to bury hatchet': After Imran Khan, Pakistan army chief's hand of peace to India
Gen Bajwa also said that peace between Pakistan and India would help to "unlock the potential of South and Central Asia"
Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Jawed Bajwa, one of the most influential decision makers in the country, extended a hand of peace to India, saying it was time to move forward. At the first Islamabad Security Dialogue, Bajwa 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. Gen Bajwa also said 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.
This comes on the back of statements of a similar nature by Pakistan PM Imran Khan. The latter had stated on Wednesday that India will benefit economically by having peace with his country as it will enable New Delhi to directly access the resource-rich Central Asia region through Pakistani territory. Khan said that his government after coming to power in 2018 did everything for better ties with India and it was for India to reciprocate. "India will have to take the first step. Unless they do so, we cannot do much," he said.
In February, the two rivals had signed a pact to observe a strict ceasefire across the border. The Indian ministry of defence stated the director-generals of military operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact. “The two sides reviewed the situation along the Line of Control and all other sectors in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere. In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence,” a statement said.
India has made its position very clear. 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. India has also told Pakistan that "talks and terror" cannot go together and has asked Islamabad to take demonstrable steps against terror groups responsible for launching various attacks on India.
Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in the neighbouring country. Subsequent attacks, including one on Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship. The ties dipped further after India's war planes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. The relations deteriorated after India announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories in August, 2019.