‘It takes two to tango’: Pakistan Army chief says his country wants normal ties with India

Pakistan wants normal and peaceful ties with a “belligerent” India but it “takes two to tango”, army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Wednesday against the backdrop of strained relations between the two countries.

Bajwa made the remarks at a seminar in the port city of Karachi while referring to Pakistan’s “external front”, which he said “continues to remain in a flux”.

There have been no substantive contacts between New Delhi and Islamabad in recent months, with India making any dialogue conditional to the end of Pakistan’s backing for cross-border terrorism. A comprehensive dialogue process agreed on during external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad in December 2015 never took off because it was followed by a string of terror attacks.

“We have also expressed and demonstrated our genuine desire to have normal and peaceful relations with India, however, it takes two to tango,” Bajwa said in his speech at the seminar on “interplay of economy and security”.

“With a belligerent India on our east and an unstable Afghanistan on our west, the region remains captive due to historical baggage and negative competition,” he added.

Pakistan’ he said, had made a “deliberate and concerted effort to pacify” the border with Afghanistan through diplomatic, military and economic initiatives. It had also boosted human security in the restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan and surrounding areas.

Pakistan has reacted warily to US President Donald Trump’s call for India to play a larger role in war-torn Afghanistan. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has repeatedly said he sees no role for India in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has also come under increased pressure from the US to crack down on terror groups such as the Haqqani Network.

During the seminar, Bajwa stressed the need for Pakistan to strike a viable balance between economy and security. “Only then will we arrive at a future that ensures sustained peace and happiness for our people,” he said.

“We live in one of the most volatile regions of the world, dealing with multiple crises since inception, but increasingly so during the last four decades,” he added.

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