After Pakistan’s prime minister, the country’s military chief said on Thursday that “it is time to bury the past,” but India must create a “conducive environment” for meaningful dialogue.

Speaking at the first Islamabad Security Dialogue conference in the capital Islamabad, Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said: “We feel it is time to bury the past and move forward. Our neighbor will have to create a conducive environment, particularly in occupied Kashmir.”

“The Kashmir issue is obviously at the heart of this. It is important to understand that without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain susceptible to derailment due to politically motivated bellicosity,” he said.

Bajwa informed the participants that his country’s defense expenditure has been reduced rather than increased, despite they “live in a hostile and unstable neighborhood.”

However, he clarified that his offer was “not as a result of any pressure but his sincere desire to recast the Pakistan’s image as a peace-loving nation.”

The army chief’s remarks come a day after Premier Imran Khan asked India to take the first step towards peace and resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

Khan said his government tried from the first day to resolve all outstanding issues with India, including Kashmir, through dialogue, but “New Delhi went in the opposite direction.”

Four-point agenda

The army chief proposed a four-point plan for the region’s long-term stability and economic growth.

He said: “Non-interference of any kind in the internal affairs of our neighboring regional countries, boosting intra-regional trade and connectivity for bringing sustainable development and prosperity through establishment of investment and economic hubs, within the region.”

He added that stable Indo-Pak relations are key to unlock the untapped potential of South and Central Asia, by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia.

“The potential has forever remained hostage to the disputes and issues between two nuclear neighbors. But we are ready to improve our environment by resolving all our outstanding issues with our neighbors, through dialogue in a dignified and peaceful manner,” he added.

US-Taliban peace deal thanks to Pakistan’s efforts

According to the army chief, his country is strategically located to serve as a link between civilizations and a connecting conduit for regional economies.

“We intend to leverage our vital geostrategic location for our own regional and global benefit; our robust role in current peace process in Afghanistan is proof of our goodwill and understanding of our global and moral obligations,” he said.

“Our close collaboration and crucial support for the peace process has led us to the historic agreement between Taliban and the US and paves the way for intra-Afghan dialogue,” Bajwa added.

He assured his country will continue to support the peace process and bring durable peace to Afghanistan and the region.

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