Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa has made attempts to reach out to India with an aim to restart talks, but it is New Delhi that has been refusing to meet him halfway, a commentary by a leading British think tank has said. The article further said the Pakistan Army leadership has come around to the position that the path to peace depends on peace with India.
The analysis of Bajwa's overtures was carried by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and was written by Kamal Alam, RUSI's visiting fellow on Pakistan. However, the RUSI commentary came with the disclaimer that the opinion was not its own position.
"Senior Pakistani officers, led by Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, realise that the way to peace and prosperity is through military cooperation with India… Despite continued tensions and fire-fights in Kashmir at their fiercest for a decade, Pakistan's generals want to talk and feel the ball is in India's court," read the article.
The author listed a number of steps that Bajwa has taken in recent months seemingly in a bid at rapprochement with India. He pointed out that the defence attache at the Indian embassy in Islamabad had been invited to the Pakistan Day military parade in March, for the first ever time. Bajwa had said two weeks later that the Pakistan military wanted peace and dialogue with India.
The author posits that the change in the tone of the Pakistan military's view on India began with Bajwa's ascent to the leadership of the Pakistan Army in November 2016, combined with the easing of internal pressures on the Rawalpinidi GHQ.
"A siege mentality in the Pakistani General Headquarters in Rawalpindi has meant that that there has been practically no major defence diplomacy between the arch-rivals. However, since the army launched antiterror operations Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 and Radd-ul-Fassad in 2017, Pakistan has seen a turnaround in its security," read the commentary.
"With growing security and stability on the western border, the army understands that talking to India will help the country's upward economic trajectory and allow regional trade flourish," it added.
The author then places the ball firmly in India's court. "India has so far rejected Pakistan's offer of a transit trade dialogue on Afghan-Indian commerce. But with a sustained approach by Pakistani officers to India, it could only be a matter of time before Delhi agrees to at least talk to Islamabad," he said.
Alam ended his commentary saying there is a long way to go in this process of rapprochement.
India had shut its door on talks with Islamabad after terrorists from Pakistan attacked an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot. The attack had come just a week after Prime Minister's surprise stopover in Lahore for détente with then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif.