General Qamar Javed Bajwa Photographer: Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images via Bloomberg
After a suicide attack in Indian Kashmir killed 40 soldiers in February 2019, their relationship reached its lowest point in recent years
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan's powerful army chief, urged India to "bury the past and step forward."
The rare remarks came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan urged New Delhi to move toward peace by resolving issues in Kashmir, reports Bloomberg.
Since their independence from Britain in 1947, the nuclear-armed nations have fought three wars, two of which took place in the Himalayan region. The territory is split between the two and both claim it in its entirety.
After a suicide attack in Indian Kashmir killed 40 soldiers in February 2019, their relationship reached its lowest point in recent years.
India retaliated with airstrikes against suspected terrorist camps in Pakistan, which it claims are run with Islamabad's tacit approval. Pakistan has always denied supporting terrorist organizations.
After India revoked the constitutional autonomy of its Jammu-Kashmir state later that year, both countries withdrew their envoys.
"We are ready to improve our environment by resolving all our outstanding issues with our neighbors through a dialogue," the army chief said. "But for the resumption of the peace process or a meaningful dialogue, our neighbor will have to create a conducive environment," particularly in India's portion of Kashmir.
Bajwa's remarks at the Islamabad Security Dialog are noteworthy because the army, which has controlled Pakistan directly for nearly half of its existence, plays a large role in Khan's government, providing feedback on foreign policy and security issues.
The peace gestures come after an unprecedented joint statement by Indian and Pakistani military commanders last month, in which they reaffirmed their commitment to a 2003 cease-fire in Kashmir.