Pakistan Army Chief Says It’s Time to ‘Bury the Past’ With India
A student with a Pakistani flag celebrates at the mausoleum of the country’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, Pakistan. (Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg News)

Pakistan Army Chief Says It’s Time to ‘Bury the Past’ With India

Pakistan’s powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa asked India “to bury the past and move forward,” in rare comments that came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan urged New Delhi to move toward peace by resolving issues around the Kashmir region.

The nuclear-armed nations have fought three wars since their independence from 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 roadblock in recent years after a suicide attack in Indian Kashmir in February 2019 killed 40 soldiers. India retaliated with air-strikes on alleged terror camps inside Pakistan that it says operate with Islamabad’s tacit blessings. Pakistan has always denied that it supports terrorist groups.

Pakistan Army Chief Says It’s Time to ‘Bury the Past’ With India

Both nations pulled back their envoys later that year after India revoked the constitutional autonomy of its Jammu-Kashmir state.

“We are ready to improve our environment by resolving all our outstanding issues with our neighbors through a dialog,” the army chief said. “But for the resumption of the peace process or a meaningful dialog, our neighbor will have to create a conducive environment,” particularly in India’s portion of Kashmir.

Bajwa’s comments at the Islamabad Security Dialog are significant as the army, which has directly ruled Pakistan for about half of its history, has an outsize role in Khan’s government with inputs on foreign policy and security matters.

The peace overtures follow an unusual joint statement by military commanders from India and Pakistan last month renewing vows to adhere to a 2003 cease-fire in Kashmir.

“We have learned from the past to evolve and are willing to move ahead toward a new future,” Bajwa said. “However, all this is contingent upon reciprocity.”

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