Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has stressed the need for regional peace during his keynote address on the second day of the Islamabad Security Dialogue being held in the federal capital.
The army chief was indirectly referring to the Kashmir issue and ties with India, saying the protected conflicts in South Asia are leading causes of poverty and underdevelopment in the region.
During his address, the COAS said Pakistan’s geostrategic location positions it to promote regional connectivity and operate as a trade and transit hub for the region, but without resolution of conflicts, the regional development will remain impossible.
According to Gen Bajwa, there was a need for countries to work together to face various challenges, such as terrorism and the coronavirus pandemic.
The army chief added that Pakistan is facing “multidimensional challenges” and a multilateral global and regional approach is the need of the hour to fix these issues.
He said it is regrettable to acknowledge that despite a lot of human population in South Asia, it is still the “least integrated” region when it comes to important issues such as water, trade, infrastructure, and energy cooperation.
Gen Bajwa said history had taught the world that progress has been achieved through an interconnected and interdependent sense of security, urging the global powers to enhance their relations. He urged them to move towards convergence rather than divergence for the benefit of the world.
“Pakistan has been one of the few countries that, despite the rising challenges, has resisted the temptation of involving itself in an arms race,” he added. “Our defence expenditures have rather reduced instead of increasing.”
Gen Bajwa said without the resolution of the Kashmir issue through “peaceful means,” the region will remain susceptible to tensions and conflicts. He added that it is up to India to take steps to make the regional atmosphere conducive for peace.
“However, we feel it is time to bury the past and move forward,” he said.