Islamabad: Pakistan wants Kashmir and all other disputes with India “settled quickly through dialogue and diplomacy” while continuing to build on its “long history of excellent strategic relationship with the US” and “close ties” with China, army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa declared on Saturday, appearing to set a foreign policy direction even as PM Imran Khan dissolved parliament.
Gen Bajwa’s statements on ties with adversaries and allies, including Pakistan’s “relief” at the situation along its eastern border and the LoC with India being “satisfactory and fairly peaceful”, came against the backdrop of PM Imran’s purported slip of tongue about the US engineering a “foreign-funded conspiracy” to oust his government since he visited Russia.
“With one-third of the Gulf region involved in some sort of conflict and war, it is important that we keep the flames of fire away from our region,” the army chief said at an event called Islamabad Security Dialogue.
Cannot condone Russia
Gen Bajwa gave voice to "Pakistan's serious concern" over the war in Ukraine, saying Russia might have legitimate security concerns but its aggression against a smaller country could not be condoned. “Russia's invasion of Ukraine was very unfortunate as thousands of people have been killed, millions made refugees and half of Ukraine destroyed,” he said, taking a stand opposite to Imran Khan’s steadfast refusal to do the West’s bidding and denounce Russia.
Bajwa warned that the continuation of the conflict would not serve the interests of any side, least of all developing countries bearing the socio-economic costs of a war that could still “easily get out of hand".
On Ukraine not throwing in the towel more than a month after the fighting started, the general said the country's military response had given hope to smaller countries that they could defend their territory with smaller but agile forces along with modernisation of equipment. He said Pakistan had excellent “defence and economic ties with Ukraine” while ties with Russia, which Khan visited even as the war started, were “cold” for a long time because of numerous reasons. He hastened to add that some positive developments in this regard had taken place recently. Bajwa said Pakistan had despatched humanitarian aid to Ukraine through Pakistan Air Force planes and would continue to do.