Pakistan genuinely wants to have peaceful ties with its neighbours, including a “belligerent” India, the country’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said, underlining that it takes “two to tango”.
Speaking at a seminar on Wednesday on ‘Interplay of Economy and Security’, Gen Bajwa also said that the region surrounding Pakistan remains captive due to “historical baggage” and “negative competition”.
Relations between India and Pakistan have suffered a series of setbacks following a number of terror attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists. New Delhi has made it clear to Islamabad that bilateral talks cannot take place unless Pakistan dismantles the terror networks on its soil.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have also been tense with the two countries accusing each other of turning a “blind eye” towards terrorist outfits.
“Our external front which continues to remain in a flux. With a belligerent India on our East and an unstable Afghanistan on our West, the region remains captive due to historical baggage and negative competition,” Bajwa said.
He said there is a need for comprehensive effort to pursue the National Action Plan and remove vulnerabilities well before they turn into threats.
“But on our part, we are making a deliberate and concerted effort to pacify the western border through a multitude of diplomatic, military and economic initiative. We have also expressed and demonstrated our genuine desire to have normal and peaceful relations with India, however, it takes two to tango,” Bajwa said.
Bajwa also expressed concern over the country’s “sky high” debts, saying the abysmally low tax to GDP ratio must change if the country has to “break the begging bowl”.
“Growth has picked up but the debts are sky high. Infrastructure and energy have improved considerably but the current account balance is not in our favour,” he said.
According to figures released by the finance ministry, Pakistan’s foreign debt and liabilities are around $58 billion (Rs 3.7 lakh crore).
“In order to secure our future, we have to increase our tax base, bring in fiscal discipline and ensure continuity of economic policies,” he said, adding that economy remained one of the highest concerns during National Security Council meetings.
Bajwa also said when enemies of Pakistan wanted to damage it, they targeted financial hub Karachi and tried to destabilise it.
He said the authorities had put peace a top priority in Karachi and want the city to return to its old economic growth.