‘Time to bury past’: Pakistan army chief to India

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Pakistan army chief General Qamar Bajwa on Thursday offered an olive branch to New Delhi as he said the time has come “to bury the past and move forward” and further urged India to take steps to make conducive atmosphere for peace.

Bajwa, who was speaking at the high-profile National Security Dialogue event in Pakistan capital Islamabad, said the stable relation between India and Pakistan was the “key to unlock the potential of south and central Asia”, The News reported.

“The potential, however, has remained hostage between two nuclear neighbours,” Bajwa said. “The Kashmir dispute, obviously, is at the heart of this problem”.

Bajwa said the region will always remain susceptible to tension and conflict without the resolution of Kashmir issue through “peaceful means”. “However, we feel it is time to bury the past and move forward,” Bajwa said in a cryptic message that signals Pakistan’s willingness to accept status quo as permanent solution to Kashmir issue.

The peace offer from Pakistan’s army chief has come weeks after Indian and Pakistani armies agreed to abide by a ceasefire agreement, which was severely violated in last two years.

The “bury the past” remark of Bajwa has also come at a time when Indian government yesterday said that there has been a significant drop in infiltration of militants into Kashmir region as the numbers have fallen to the lowest levels since the eruption of insurgency three decades ago.

Bajwa said “it is up to India to take steps to make the atmosphere in the region conducive for peace”, without elaborating the nature of such measures.

In a sign of departure from Pakistan’s traditional policy on Kashmir being the core issue, Bajwa stressed on a regional cooperation and integration on issues of water, trade, infrastructure and energy.

The army chief said Pakistan was ready to resolve all outstanding issues with its neighbours, adding that “this choice is deliberate and not as a result of any pressure”, The News reported.

“We have learned from the past and are willing to move ahead in the future,” Bajwa said. “However, all this is contingent on reciprocity.”

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