Pak­istan de­sires peace and cor­dial re­la­tions with In­dia, says army chief

It takes two hands to clap: Gen. Qa­mar Ba­jwa


Speak­ing at a sem­i­nar of In­ter­play of Econ­omy and Se­cu­rity on Wed­nes­day, Gen. Ba­jwa said, “It takes two hands to clap” and with­out In­dia re­cip­ro­cat­ing, is­sues will re­main un­re­solved between the nu­clear-armed ri­vals.

“With a bel­liger­ent In­dia on our east and an un­sta­ble Afghanistan on our west, the re­gion re­mains cap­tive due to his­tor­i­cal bag­gage and neg­a­tive com­pe­ti­tion,” said Ba­jwa.

He stressed that Pak­istan had worked hard to­ward mak­ing a “de­lib­er­ate and con­cen­trated ef­fort to pacify the western border through a mul­ti­tude of diplo­matic, mil­i­tary and eco­nomic ini­tia­tives.”

Gen. Ba­jwa’s re­marks come nearly a week af­ter the for­mer chiefs of Pak­istan and In­dia’s prime in­tel­li­gence agen­cies said that diplo­matic com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels were es­sen­tial and must re­main open for the sake of both coun­tries’ na­tional in­ter­ests.

In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence’s (ISI’s) for­mer Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Eh­san ul Haq, and for­mer Re­search and Anal­y­sis Wing (RAW) spy­mas­ter, Amar­jit Singh Du­lat, took part in a de­bate at the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics in which both un­der­lined that talks were the only op­tion for re­solv­ing long stand­ing is­sues.

Eh­san, re­spond­ing to a ques­tion, said: “In­ter­ac­tion must be such that even when there is a break­down in diplo­matic re­la­tions between states and en­ti­ties, the in­tel­li­gence chan­nel must con­tinue be­cause that be­comes the last re­sort for vent­ing and pre-empt­ing cri­sis; the ini­tia­tive for this has to come down from the po­lit­i­cal level.”

Eh­san’s for­mer coun­ter­part agreed and said that In­dia should not cut ties with Pak­istan as it made no sense to him. Point­ing to his­tory, he ex­plained that even in the worst days of the Cold War, the US Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency (CIA) and Rus­sian Komitet Go­su­darstven­noy Be­zopas­nosti (KGB) talked to each other.

On the other hand, Aqab Malik, se­cu­rity and strat­egy an­a­lyst at Pak­istan’s Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity, be­lieves that “In­dia doesn’t want to en­gage be­cause Amer­i­cans are an­gry at Pak­istan” and they (the Amer­i­cans) are seek­ing a greater role for In­dia in end­ing the Afghanistan con­flict.

“It’s also mu­tual in­ter­est,” he said speak­ing to Arab News, and re­fer­ring to the un­canny re­la­tion­ship between US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. He stressed that even in “100 years” In­dia would not be friends with Pak­istan. “Think­ing oth­er­wise would be liv­ing in a fool’s par­adise.”

“We can’t com­pete in any way with In­dia ex­cept when it comes to nu­clear weapons. In­dia has long term aims but we don’t and that’s why they don’t care about open­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels,” said Malik, ex­plain­ing the large dif­fer­ences between both coun­tries and not­ing that Pak­istan is on the weaker foot­ing.

Over the last 15 months the mil­i­taries of both coun­tries have vi­o­lated the cease-fire agree­ment — In­dia claim­ing over 600 and Pak­istan coun­ter­ing with a claim of 700 vi­o­la­tions. The trust deficit has only grown over sev­eral decades with a dim­ming of hopes for a vi­able so­lu­tion to end the Kash­mir and east­ern border dis­pute.

Pak­istan’s for­eign sec­re­tary, briefing the heads of mis­sions of the per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in Islamabad, stressed the un­prece­dented es­ca­la­tion by In­dian oc­cu­pa­tion forces at the line of con­trol and the work­ing bound­ary in 2017. She ex­pressed grave con­cern over the in­creased fre­quency and du­ra­tion of in­dis­crim­i­nate fir­ing/shelling from the In­dian side, de­lib­er­ately tar­get­ing vil­lages and civil­ian pop­u­lated ar­eas. This has re­sulted up to now in the deaths of 45 civil­ians and in­juries to 155, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren.

Pak­istan said it has dis­played ex­em­plary re­straint but has been com­pelled to re­spond.

Malik painted a grim pic­ture and said: “We are a thorn in their side and an ob­sta­cle to In­dia’s am­bi­tion to be­come a re­gional power. That’s why there will never be a so­lu­tion to the con­flict between Pak­istan and In­dia.”

ISLAMABAD: Pak­istan’s army chief, Qa­mar Javed Ba­jwa, has re­it­er­ated Islamabad’s de­sire for a re­sump­tion of di­a­logue with In­dia and for peace­ful re­la­tions with its east­ern neigh­bor. Both na­tions are en­gaged in border skir­mishes re­sult­ing in loss of life along the dis­puted bound­ary of Jammu and Kash­mir.

Pak­istan’s army chief Qa­mar Javed Ba­jwa has re­cently hinted at Islamabad's de­sire to re­sume di­a­logue with In­dia for peace­ful re­la­tions. (AFP)

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