Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called on India to “bury the past and move on”, in rare comments that came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan urged New Delhi to move towards peace by solving the problems in the Kashmir region.
Nuclear-armed nations have fought against three wars since its independence from Great Britain in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region. The area is divided between the two and claimed in its entirety by both. Their relationship hit its worst hurdle in recent years after a suicide attack in Indian Kashmir in February 2019 killed 40 soldiers. India responded with airstrikes on suspected terrorist camps within Pakistan that it says operate with the unspoken blessings of Islamabad. Pakistan has always denied that it supports terrorist groups.
Both nations withdrew their envoys later that year after India revoked the constitutional autonomy of its Jammu-Kashmir state.
Pakistani Prime Minister Khan urges India to move towards peace
“We are ready to improve our environment by solving all our outstanding problems with our neighbors through dialogue,” said the army chief. “But for the resumption of the peace process or meaningful dialogue, our neighbor will have to create an enabling environment,” particularly in the Indian part of Kashmir.
Bajwa’s comments at the Islamabad Security Dialogue are significant as the military, which has directly ruled Pakistan for about half of its history, plays a huge role in the Khan government with input on foreign policy and security issues.
The peace proposals follow an unusual joint statement by the Indian and Pakistani military commanders last month renewing vows to adhere to a 2003 ceasefire in Kashmir.
“We have learned from the past to evolve and we are ready to move towards a new future,” said Bajwa. “However, this all depends on reciprocity.”