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Will avenge border deaths, Pakistan warns India after US snub

General Bajwa’s comments came while addressing the Defence Day ceremony in Rawalpindi on Thursday to mark the 53rd anniversary of the 1965 war with India

india Updated: Sep 07, 2018 23:22 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,Imran Khan,India-Pakistan ties
Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrives to attend the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2017(REUTERS File Photo)

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa has pledged to “avenge” the deaths of troops on the frontier, an apparent reference to clashes with Indian forces on the Line of Control (LoC), even as Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country “won’t fight the wars of others” in what appeared to be a reference to a $300-million cut in security-related aid from the United States.

The leaders made the remarks at an event held at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi late on Thursday to mark Defence Day, observed every year to commemorate the defence of Lahore by Pakistani forces during the 1965 war with India.

Bajwa also raised the Kashmir issue, paying tributes to “the brothers and sisters of occupied Kashmir, who are writing an unparalleled history of bravery and sacrifice”.

Though he didn’t name any country, Bajwa apparently referred to clashes with Indian forces along the LoC in Kashmir when he said he wanted to assure the people that the “blood of martyrs wouldn’t be spilled in vain”.

“The blood that has been spilled on the frontier, the blood being spilled on the frontier, we will take revenge for this blood,” he said, speaking in Urdu.

Khan’s remarks during his speech at the same event appeared to be a riposte to the US demand for “sustained and decisive” action against terrorists threatening regional peace. The demand was made by secretary of state Mike Pompeo in his meetings with Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on Wednesday.

“I was opposed to the war on terror, I didn’t want Pakistan to get involved in someone else’s war,” Khan said, in Urdu. “I pledge today that Pakistan won’t fight someone else’s war.”

“Our work is to stand for our people and we will have a foreign policy that works for the betterment of Pakistanis,” he said.

The remarks came on the day a joint statement issued by India and the US after their two-plus-two talks in New Delhi mentioned Pakistan twice in the context of “cross border terrorist attacks”. The statement even referred to the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, raising the hope that the Trump administration will walk the talk on ramping up diplomatic pressure on India’s neighbour to rein in terrorist outfits.

Khan defended Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, saying no one had done more to defeat terrorism within the country. The remarks were significant in view of sustained US criticismof the Pakistani military’s failure to rein in terror groups such as the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba that operate from its soil.

He insisted there was no civil-military divide in Pakistan. Khan described the military as the “only merit-oriented organisation in Pakistan” and said he wanted to bring “meritocracy” to all institutions so that other organs of the state can become disciplined and established like the armed forces.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry said the civilian and military leadership were keen on dialogue with India to foster regional peace but the new government hasn’t received a positive response from New Delhi.

Chaudhry told BBC Urdu that Prime Minister Khan had given several indications to India for holding talks but there was no “positive answer”. He noted that Khan had said in his first speech after his election victory that if India takes one step for peace, Pakistan will take two.

Asked how the new government’s policy towards India would be different from that of the previous administration, Chaudhry said the biggest difference was that all state institutions were on the same page and had adopted a united stance on foreign policy.

Both Khan and Bajwa believe no single country can develop on its own and it is important for the region to develop, Chaudhry said. “And both of them think that if there is no peace in the region, then everyone will be left behind,” he added.

After Khan’s electoral success, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated him over the phone. According to reports, Modi hoped that “Pakistan and India will work to open a new chapter in bilateral ties”. Khan, for his part, thanked Modi for his wishes and emphasised that disputes should be resolved through dialogue.

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 19:58 IST