New Delhi: The situation on the Line of Control (LoC) has been “fairly peaceful” for the past year and Pakistan stands ready to address the Kashmir issue with India through diplomacy and dialogue, Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa said on Saturday.
Bajwa described the military standoff between India and China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as a “matter of great concern” for Pakistan, which wants the issue to be “settled quickly” through dialogue. He made the remarks while addressing the second Islamabad Security Dialogue organised by Pakistan’s national security division.
He further said the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a “huge tragedy that must be stopped immediately” and cautioned that this conflict can “easily get out of hand”. He also referred to Pakistan’s history of “excellent and strategic” relations with the US and the desire to expand these ties without impacting relations with China.
Bajwa’s remarks on relations with the US came against the backdrop of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated allegations of the US being involved in an “international conspiracy” to oust his government. Khan is widely expected to lose a vote of no-confidence in the Pakistan parliament on Sunday as dozens of lawmakers from his party and several coalition partners have switched allegiance to the opposition.
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“Towards the east, the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) is satisfactory and fairly peaceful. Mercifully, we have not seen any major incident along the LoC since last one year, which has brought great relief to the people living along both sides of the LoC,” Bajwa said, referring to the revival of the 2003 ceasefire in February last year.
“Pakistan continues to believe in using dialogue and diplomacy to resolve all outstanding issues, including the Kashmir dispute, and is ready to move forward on this front if India also agrees to do so,” he said. “With one-third of the world engulfed in some sort of a conflict or war, it is important that we keep the flames of fire away from our region.”
Bajwa added, “In this regard, besides the Kashmir dispute, the Indo-China border dispute is also a matter of great concern for us and we want it to be settled quickly through dialogue and diplomacy.”
The political leadership of the region should “rise above their emotional and perceptional biases and break the shackles of history to being peace and prosperity to almost three billion people”, he said.
India has repeatedly rubbished Pakistan’s stand on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and said the neighbouring country has misused global forums to spread false propaganda while openly using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
However, Bajwa expressed “serious concern” over the inadvertent launch of an Indian supersonic cruise missile into Pakistan on March 9, describing it as the first instance of such a missile from one nuclear-armed nation landing in another. Questioning India’s ability to manage high-end weapons systems, he contended the Indian side hadn’t immediately informed Pakistan about the launch.
India has already ordered an internal inquiry into the launch of the BrahMos missile and is looking into the role of several air force officers in the accidental launch of the weapon.
Pakistan, Bajwa said, is “deeply concerned” about the conflict in Ukraine, with which the country enjoys excellent defence and economic relations. With Russia, Pakistan had “cold relations for a long time”, though there were “some positive developments” recently.
The Russian invasion against Ukraine is unfortunate and a “huge tragedy that must be stopped immediately”, he said. “Furthermore, despite legitimate security concerns of Russia, its aggression against a smaller country cannot be condoned. Pakistan has consistently called for an immediate ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. We support immediate dialogue between all sides to find a lasting solution to the conflict,” he added.
The continuation or expansion of the conflict in Ukraine won’t serve the interest of any side and Pakistan doesn’t believe in “camp politics”, Bajwa noted. Pakistan enjoys a close strategic relationship with China but at the same time it has a long history of excellent and strategic relations with the US, which remains Pakistan’s largest export market, he said.
“We seek to broaden and expand our ties with both countries without impacting our relations with the other,” he said, adding that the European Union, Britain, the Gulf region, Southeast Asia and Japan too are vital for national development and progress.
“Pakistan believes that it is the regions, not the countries, that grow. That is why we believe that peace and stability in our wider region are prerequisites for achieving shared regional prosperity and development,” Bajwa said.