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Be cautious while dealing with India: Pakistan ex-defence secretaries

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Islamabad: Pakistan’s ex-defence secretaries have warned the government to be careful in dealing with India because they do not see a radical shift in Delhi’s policy towards Pakistan.

Former defence secretary retired Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik called for “open and extensive” debate within the country on its relations with India. Addressing a seminar on ‘Impasse in Pak-India ties Implications for Regional Diplomacy and Strategic Stability’, Malik cautioned that no radical shift in ties was expected, although there could be minor improvement caused by expediencies of the international environment.

For Pakistan, “bending is not an option; either forward or backwards. We bend and we get a kick,” Malik, who retired as defence secretary in 2014, was quoted as saying by the Dawn today during the seminar organised by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI).

He recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “belligerent” posture towards Pakistan during his election campaign and said India continued to play “cat and mouse” in ties with Pakistan. Malik listed a number of measures he expected the government to undertake both internally and externally in order to effectively deal with the challenge posed by India: de-linking Pak-Afghan ties from the Pak-India relationship,

safeguarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), tackling political fissures over CPEC, pursuing water security more seriously, and appointing a full-time foreign minister.

Retired Lt Gen Naeem Lodhi, another former defence secretary, echoed Malik when he noted that there was no detente in sight. In his view, the answer lay in the leadership of both countries ending the “blame game” and approaching the relationship with fresh and open minds, the report said.

“The imbalance of size and political clout highly in favour of India begs third party facilitation to veer these two nuclear powers away from confrontational mode. There seems to be no other option,” he said.

The director of Quaid-i-Azam University School of Politics and International Relations, Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, suggested that the countries’ leaders “act rationally and thwart the agenda of radicalised transnational terrorist groups for the prosperity of their people”.

He warned that “limited war between India and Pakistan could escalate to full scale nuclear war”.

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