We are ready to improve our environment by resolving our all outstanding issues with our neighbors through dialogue:COAS

ISLAMABAD, Mar 18 : Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that we are ready to improve our environment by resolving our all outstanding issues with our neighbors through dialogue in a dignified and peaceful manner.

Addressing the audience on the 2nd day of the first-ever Islamabad Security Dialogue, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that stable Indo-Pakistan relation is a key to unlock the untap potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia, the potential however has forever remained hostage to the disputes and issues between the two nuclear neighbors. COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that said that Kashmir dispute obviously is the heart of this problem, adding that it is important to understand that without the resolution of Kashmir dispute through peaceful means process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain susceptible to derailment due to politically motivated bellicosity; however we feel that it is time to bury the past and move forward but for the resumption of peaceful process for meaningful dialogue, our neighbor has to create conducive environment particularly in Indian occupied Kashmir.

COAS said that I am sure that an economically integrated South Asia is much more suited to then instead of war torn, crisis ridden and destabilized zone. COAS said that we have also hope in the form of incoming United States administration which can transform the tradition contestation into a gainful economic win, win for the world in general and region in particular. He said that the South Asia can be the starting point for regional cooperation. COAS said that I have firm belief that economic and sustainable human development can guide us into a future full of peace and prosperity and finally it is time that we in South Asia create synergy through connectivity, peaceful coexistence, resource sharing to fire hunger, illiteracy and disease instead of fighting each other.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that “unsettled disputes” were dragging South Asia back to poverty and underdevelopment. He said that national security is now more than just protection from internal and external threats, adding that it includes development and human security as well.

“Surely, it [national security] is not solely a function of the armed forces alone,” said the army chief, adding that national security had become an “all-encompassing notion’.

The army chief stressed on the importance of Pakistan’s geo-strategic location, adding that it “positions Pakistan to promote regional connectivity and operate as a trade and transit hub for the region”.

He underlined the need for countries to work together to face various challenges such as terrorism, the coronavirus pandemic and other ills. “Responding in silos is no longer an option,” he stressed.

He said the world has witnessed setbacks such as the World Wars and the Cold War, adding that the world was faced with similar charges. General Qamr Javed Bajwa said history had taught the world that progress has been achieved through an interconnected and interdependent sense of security.

The army chief urged world players to enhance their relations and move towards convergence rather than divergence for the benefit of the world.

General Qamr Javed Bajwa said Pakistan, like other countries of the region, is facing “multidimensional challenges” that it cannot handle single-handidly, adding that a multilateral global and regional approach to defeat them. The army chief 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.

General Qamr Javed Bajwa said as a result of these unsettled disputes, countries end up spending a huge chunk of financial resources on defence at the expense of human development. “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 said. “Our defence expenditures have rather reduced instead of increasing.”

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”. He said the main objective was to portray Pakistan’s image on the global stage as a peace-loving nation.

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

The army chief said the world recognises Pakistan as an important country due to its geo-strategic location that acts as a conduit between regional economies, its democracy and fertile soil.

General Qamr Javed Bajwa praised Pakistan’s “robust role” in the Afghan peace process, adding that it was reflective of Islamabad’s understanding of its moral responsibilities. He said it was due to efforts by Pakistan that a historic deal between the Taliban and the US was inked last year and led to the intra-Afghan dialogue.

He said Pakistan will provide “all-out support” for the Afghan peace process and has taken steps to connect Kabul with other countries. He said Pakistan had allowed Afghanistan to use the Afghan transit trade and transport goods to India as well.

Congratulating the National Security Division on organising the dialogue, General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that the contemporary concept of national security was not just about protecting countries from an external and internal threat. It is also about providing a conducive environment for ensuring human security, national progress and development, he said.

“Surely, it is not solely the function of the armed forces anymore,” he said, adding that national security in the “age of globalisation, information and connectivity” had become an “all encompassing notion”. “National security is thus multi-layered. The outer layer being the exogenous factors of the global and regional environment, and the internal layers being indigenous factors of internal peace, stability and developmental orientation.

“A nation at peace and a region at harmony are thus essential pre-requisites for attaining national security in the true spirit.” Whether it be extremism, human rights, environmental hazards or the pandemic, “responding in silos is no more an option”, he said.

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