A flurry of statements by COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was followed by developments that indicate a breaking of ice between Pakistan and India. The DGMOs of the two armies agreed to restore peace by strictly implementing the agreement on a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and other sectors. Consequently during the whole of March, the guns from both sides fell silent for the first time in nearly six years, allowing the Kashmiris living on both sides of the LoC to heave a sigh of relief. Last week there was an exchange of messages of goodwill between the two PMs. In Dushanbe, a somewhat overconfident Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, observed that Pakistan and India were heading towards a positive trajectory of ties.
General Bajwa’s call for peace was based on a nascent realization in the corridors of power that national security has to be based on a sound economic foundation, which is hardly the case in Pakistan. The ground realities however require peace in the region. Last month, it was maintained at the Islamabad Security Dialogue that it was necessary to transform Pakistan from a geo-strategic to a geo-economic hub. This requires a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s approach, taking economic diplomacy to the top of the agenda. This would have come as a shock to those who have been brought up celebrating Pakistan’s geopolitical advantage at the crossroads of the Subcontinent, China, Russia, Central Asia and the Gulf.
While stressing the need for peace in the region both General Bajwa and PM Imran Khan underlined the need on the part of India to resolve the issue of Kashmir and other issues with Pakistan. So far there has been no response on the matter from India.
The Indian side has other priorities that it wants to be resolved at the earliest. The Indian Army Chief Gen M M Naravane has accused Pakistan of keeping the terror infrastructure including terrorist launch pads intact on its side. India wants infiltration to end on a permanent basis
Things cannot proceed beyond CBMs like opening trade or improving visa facilities—which would no doubt marginally improve the relations—as long as the two governments do not move towards addressing each other’s core issues . This is no easy task keeping in view the uncompromising stance of hawks on both sides.