The Pakistan Army is willing to be a part of any dialogue process with India, said a spokesperson of the Pak military to a group of South Asian journalists visiting the country.

The current Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi have given routine audiences to other foreign leaders as had the ones before him.

When asked whether the Pakistani army and its chief would be part of any civilian delegation from Pakistan talking to India or meeting up with the head of the Indian army, Major-General Asif Ghafoor, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate, said: “we have passed that stage.”

It has bene India’s long standing belief that there is a divide between the civilian government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Army with regards to talks with India. India also believes that the Pakistani army could sabotage a talk process as had happened with the Lahore talks in 1999.

Another example is the 2016 Uri terror strike, following which India cancelled attending the SAARC summit that was to be held in Islamabad.

And since then there has been a halt in the bilateral dialogue process.

However, there have been instances when India’s NSAs Ajit Doval and Nazir Janjua have discussed multiple issues in their meetings.

The two countries (Indian and Pakistan) could not jump to the moon, commented Gen. Ghafoor when he was asked if the Army foresaw a big reconciliation with India or the taking of measures towards stability and peace. “Initial steps have to be taken,” he said.

While claiming that Pakistan is still waiting to get “evidence” from India to bring an end to the trial undergoing in Pakistan in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks incident, Gen. Ghafoor also opined that Pakistan has to bring to the mainstream groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

There has been a gross misunderstanding about Pakistan abroad, he said. There is an assumption among Westerners that Pakistanis dress up like Osama bin Laden and carry nuclear bombs with them. “The same red blood runs in our veins,” he stressed.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) auspices could also form the base for considering any the participation of Pakistan in multilateral exercise involving India, Gen. Ghafoor also indicated. SCO is a group which is now led by the Chinese and both India and Pakistan are now members of it.

It was time to move forward, he said even while admitting the existence of a “trust deficit” between India and Pakistan. The revival of SAARC could be a key move towards that end, he said. “Let us make SAARC effective.”

Recently, former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’ had said in an interview that militant groups were active in Pakistan and raised questions about the stretching of the Mumbai attack trial. In refence to those comments, Gen. Ghafoor said that Sharif’s comments were outplayed more by the Indian media compared to the Pakistani media.

(Adapted from TheHindu.com)