Soon after assuming charge as the chief of Pakistani Army, General Qamar Javed Bajwa has made clear that his top priority will be to ease tensions on the border with neighbouring India.

After attending the ‘Change in Command’ ceremony at the Pak Army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Wednesday, General Bajwa met the press to share his views on the Indo-Pak border issue. He expressed serious concern over the deteriorating situation at the “Line of Control” (LoC), saying that the Pak Army would co-operate with the Indian Army for improving the situation.

Admitting that he would have a heavy responsibility on his shoulders, General Bajwa also said that it would be important for both Pakistan and India to maintain peace along the border. His predecessor General (Retired) Raheel Sharif recently sent a strong message to New Delhi, saying that India should not “mistake our policy of patience for weakness”. The new Army chief refused to make any comments on General Sharif’s move, saying that he would make decisions on the basis of reality.

General Bajwa further admitted that diplomatic ties between the two South Asian neighbours have been frosty since an attack on an Indian Army base camp in Uri (Kashmir). He said it was unfortunate that India blamed Pakistan for sheltering the militants (who carried out the attack) and claimed that it carried out a “surgical strike” against militant launch pads across the LoC. General Bajwa once again rejected India’s claim that the surgical strike was carried out inside the Pakistani territory, stressing that ceasefire violations should be stopped at any cost. He assured India that the Pakistani forces would not violate ceasefire, if the Indian Army agreed to do the same.

General Bajwa urged the media to play a positive role and encourage Pakistani soldiers to maintain peace at borders. He said that the main job of Pakistani forces should be to help the Nawaz Sharif government ensure peace in the region. To get success, the Army needs the media’s help, added the Army chief. General Bajwa believes that the media can influence both Islamabad and New Delhi in a positive way that will ultimately help the two countries restore peace in the region.

As far as the issue of terrorism is concerned, General Bajwa said that Pakistan, just like India, recently launched a war against terrorists who have no religion. He opined that India and Pakistan should prepare a common counter-terrorism strategy through dialogue, insisting that such a move might help root out the menace.

Meanwhile, Northern Army Commander of India Lieutenant General D S Hooda said on Wednesday (his last day in office) that he did not see an easy solution for ending the Kashmir conflict. Calling it a long war, he said that the issue would require a “long-term approach”. He made the comment when the sources close to Narendra Modi government predicted that the conflict with “home-grown” militants would end soon. A day after seven Indian soldiers were killed in a terror strike at Nagrota (Kashmir), Lieutenant General Hooda said that the situation along the LOC was definitely not cooling down anytime soon.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]

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