‘Comprehensive dialogue’ the route to restoring peace in Kashmir

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Saturday said that “comprehensive and meaningful” dialogue with India remains the inevitable route to restoring peace in the region but stressed that any bilateral talks with the neighbours can only be held “on the basis of sovereign equality, dignity and honour”.

Speaking at the passing out parade of the 137th PMA Long Course, 8th Mujahid Course and 56th Integrated Course, the army chief once again offered his support to the embattled people of Indian-held Kashmir, where a surge in violence has seen more than 100 people killed just this year.

“I take this opportunity to express our complete political and moral support to the basic right of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he was quoted as saying by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“Those peace-loving innocent citizens [of India-held Kashmir] are being subjected to one of the worst forms of state terrorism. It is high time for the world community to wake up and play a positive role in bringing peace to that unfortunate part of the sub-continent.”

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The army chief reiterated that lasting peace in the region can be achieved only through dialogue, saying: “It is our sincere belief that the route to peaceful resolution of Pak-India disputes — including the core issue of Kashmir — runs through comprehensive and meaningful dialogue.

“While such dialogue is no favour to any party, it remains the inevitable precursor to peace across the region. Pakistan remains committed to such a dialogue, but only on the basis of sovereign equality, dignity and honour.”

Gen Bajwa said that even though Pakistan seeks harmonious and peaceful co-existence with all countries, “this desire for peace must not, in any sense, be construed as a sign of weakness”.

“Our valiant armed forces are fully prepared to respond across the full spectrum of threat in a befitting manner.”

The army chief expressed his desire to see a more stable Afghanistan, saying that Pakistan is fully committed to helping the Afghan government in restoring peace.

“We are also committed to peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan at all bilateral and multilateral forums,” he said. “We sincerely believe that there will be no peace in Pakistan, if there is no peace in Afghanistan.”

The COAS highlighted Pakistan’s shunning of extremism and victories in the fight against terrorism.

“Pakistan has eliminated almost all organised terrorist presence and infrastructure from its soil,” he said. “We are now going after the residual and scattered traces of this menace under the banner of Operation Raddul Fasaad.

“We have done our part to cleanse Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism and extremism without any distinction and our efforts have started to bear results. We are committed to continue these efforts, not out of any compulsion, but to make Pakistan a safe, prosperous and progressive country.”