General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff, has said that “unsettled disputes” were pulling South Asia back to hardship and underdevelopment. He was referring to the controversial problem of Indian-occupied Kashmir.
The army chief was speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad for the National Security Dialogue, where he said that national security today encompasses more than just defense from internal and external threats, and it also requires growth and human security.
“Surely, it [national security] is not solely a function of the armed forces alone,” said the army chief, adding that national security had become an “all-encompassing notion’.
The army chief stressed the importance of Pakistan’s geostrategic location, adding that it “positions Pakistan to promote regional connectivity and operate as a trade and transit hub for the region”.
He emphasized the importance of countries cooperating to address issues such as extremism, the coronavirus pandemic, and other ills.
“Responding in silos is no longer an option,” he stressed.
He noted that the world has seen defeats such as World Wars and the Cold War, and has encountered identical allegations in the past. According to Gen Bajwa, history has told the world that change is made in a sense of integrated and interdependent protection.
The army chief also encouraged world players to improve their ties and drive toward integration rather than separation.
General Bajwa said that Pakistan, like other countries in the area, is confronted with “multidimensional problems” that it cannot address alone, and that defeating them would require a multilateral global and regional solution.
Despite its large population, the army chief expressed disappointment that South Asia remains the “least integrated” region when it comes to important issues such as water, commerce, infrastructure, and energy cooperation.