US our largest export market, says Gen Bajwa

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said Pakistan does not believe in camp politics and seeks to expand and broaden its relations with both China and the United States. Pakistan does not believe in camp politics and its bilateral partnership with friends is not at expense of relations with other countries,” the COAS while addressing the Islamabad Security Dialogue here on Saturday, said and maintained Pakistan wanted to broaden relations with both China and the United States without impacting ties with the other.

Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the two-day Islamabad Dialogue under the theme ‘Comprehensive Security and Imagining International Cooperation’ on Friday. The event hosted 17 speakers from China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, European Union, Japan and other countries.

General Bajwa said that Pakistan enjoys close and strategic cooperation with China demonstrated by the two countries’ commitment to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. He said Pakistan equally shares a long history of excellent and strategic relationship with the US which remains our largest export market. “We want to broaden relations with both China and the United States without impacting ties with the other,” the COAS categorically maintained. Similarly, he said that European Union, United Kingdom, Gulf, South East Asia, and Japan were also vital for Pakistan’s national development.

He pointed out that Pakistan was also deeply concerned over the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “We have defence relations with Ukraine and after a cold period of relations with Russia, there have been some positive developments. The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia is unfortunate as thousands of people have been killed and half of Ukraine is destroyed,” he said.

“Despite legitimate security concerns of Russia, its aggression against a smaller country cannot be condoned. Pakistan has consistently called for an immediate cease-fire and cessation of hostilities,” Gen Bajwa said.

“We also call for dialogue between all sides to find a lasting solution,” he said, adding that the continuation of conflict in Ukraine would not serve the interests of any side. Pakistan had already dispatched humanitarian assistance through special PAF flights and will continue to do so.

General Bajwa said Pakistan continues to believe in using diplomacy and dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues with India including the Kashmir dispute. He said Pakistan is ready to move forward on this front if India also agrees to do so. Expressing deep concerns over the recent landing of an Indian supersonic cruise missile inside Pakistan territory, the Army Chief said this raises serious questions about India’s ability to manage and operate high-end weapon systems. “This is for the first time that a supersonic cruise missile from a nuclear state landed in another nuclear country. The indifferent attitude of India of not informing Pakistan of the inadvertent launch of the missile” is another cause of concern he said. He said Pakistan has called for a thorough probe into the incident. “We expect India to provide evidence to ensure Pakistan and the world community that their weapons are safe and secured,’ he said. He expressed the hope that the international community would realise that the incident could have caused the loss of lives in Pakistan and shot down flights that were in the air at that time.

Gen Bajwa said Pakistan continues to work closely with the international community to pursue peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said it is the collective responsibility of the Afghan people to ensure timely and adequate humanitarian aid flows into the country. He warned that the consequences of the inability to address the humanitarian crisis will lead to the refugee crisis and will again make Afghanistan an epicentre of terrorism.

General Qamar Bajwa reaffirmed Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to defeating terrorism saying that the country had made remarkable gains against terrorism which resulted in marked improvement in the internal security situation of Pakistan. However, observed that the threat of terrorism and violent extremism remains and our struggle will continue till we eliminate the last terrorist and the cause of terrorism from the region.

Acknowledging the efforts of the National Security Division in organising the second security dialogue, General Bajwa said: “I believe today more than ever we need to inculcate and promote such spaces for intellectual debate and discourse where people from around the world come together to share their ideas about the future of their country and world at large.”

Regarding the unprecedented challenges faced around the world, he said that the resurgence of inter-state conflicts amid shared global challenges of poverty, climate change, terrorism, cyber intrusion and scarcity of resources poses profound questions for the international system. “The international community’s collective security rests in our ability to integrate our shared goals of global prosperity to an equitable international system resisting the external pressures.

“Pakistan, as a country located at the crossroads of economic and strategic confronts, is navigating these shared challenges in our immediate region and through our partnership in the international community,” he said.

Pakistan’s first-ever National Security Policy places the safety, security, dignity and prosperity of its citizens at the heart of our security policy. “Our policy recognises the symbiotic relationship between economic, human and traditional security, placing economic security at the core,” he said.

General Bajwa further went on to say that the policy’s ultimate aim is to achieve prosperity for Pakistan’s citizens and it focuses on ensuring domestic economic stability and growth augmented through development partnership with the international community under our geo-economic strategy.

The COAS mentioned that to achieve this required peace at home and abroad, Pakistan’s security forces given innumerable sacrifices to defeat terrorism. He highlighted that since 2001 Pakistan has suffered over 90,000 causalities and more than Rs150 billion in economic losses.

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