KARACHI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa believes that peace and prosperity in Pakistan is linked to better military cooperation with arch rival India, says a report by a UK-based think tank.
According to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) report, published on May 3, bilateral ties between the two arch-rivals are warming with Gen Bajwa saying that the “Pakistan military wanted peace and dialogue with India”.
The statement came two weeks after the COAS invited Indian military attaché Sanjay Vishwasrao and his team to the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad.
In a historic first, the Foreign Office has confirmed Pakistan would be taking part in joint military exercises with India and other regional countries, including China, under the banner of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The joint military drills are scheduled to be held in Russia in August this year.
The series of events are a sign of rapprochement against the background of regular exchanges of fire along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary.
Speaking at RUSI last year, Gen Qamar had announced that, “the Pakistan Army is now no more insecure and feels confident of its future and that he welcomes Indian participation in Pakistan’s flagship infrastructure project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”
This is not the first time a Pakistani military leader has approached his Indian counterparts to thaw frosty relations.
Lt-Gen Aamir Riaz headed the first high-level contact group with India as the Director-General Military Operations (DGMO), the report said.
Another top officer, Maj-Gen Ahmed Hayat, the Director General of the analysis wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), authored the ‘India Plan’ in 2013, which tried to ascertain how and when Pakistan should approach India, it added.
According to Gen Hayat, the Pakistani military would approach India after Islamabad strengthened its defence diplomacy without pressure or threats from Washington.
“It is a no-brainer that one cannot live in an environment of perpetual enmity with a neighbour six times your size, but the indicators have to be right,” he was quoted as saying.
“History teaches us to be cautious when approaching India – history paints India as an anti-status quo entity.”
According to the report, Pakistan now feels more politically stable and Gen Hayat’s plan could come to fruition this year.
With growing security and stability on the western border following back-to-back successful operations Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 and Radd-ul-Fassad in 2017, the army understands that talking to India will help the country’s upward economic trajectory and allow regional trade flourish, according to the RUSI report.
Despite cold response from India on transit trade dialogue on Afghan-India commerce, Pakistan’s military leadership’s sustained efforts are highly likely to exact the desired response sooner rather than later. “It could only be a matter of time before Delhi agrees to at least talk to Islamabad,” the report suggested.
“There is some rapprochement, but it is stuttering and there’s a long way to go yet.”