Pakistan calls for peace as it shows off military might

President Arif Alvi said he hoped the region would remain peaceful and focus on education, health and employment rather than war.
The Babur missile at the military parade in Islamabad on Saturday for Pakistan's national day. March 23 marks the adoption of the Lahore Resolution demanding a separate state for the Muslims of British-ruled India.
The Babur missile at the military parade in Islamabad on Saturday for Pakistan's national day. March 23 marks the adoption of the Lahore Resolution demanding a separate state for the Muslims of British-ruled India.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

President says problems with India must be solved with dialogue in Republic Day speech

ISLAMABAD • Pakistan wants peace with India and both should focus on health and education, the Pakistani President said during a parade to show off its military might following a tense stand-off between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Conflict between the rivals erupted last month following a suicide bombing claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group in the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region that killed 40 paramilitary police.

"We do not believe in war and want to solve problems through dialogue," President Arif Alvi said in his Pakistan Republic Day speech on Saturday. "Instead of war, we should focus on education and health."

Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight with Indian aircraft over Kashmir on Feb 27, a day after a raid by Indian jets on what New Delhi said was a militant camp in Pakistan.

In their first such clash since their last war in 1971, Pakistan downed an Indian plane and captured its pilot after he ejected over Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. He was later released as a peace gesture.

President Alvi, who largely holds ceremonial duties, said India had blamed Pakistan for the suicide bombing without evidence, which he said was irresponsible.

NO TO WAR, YES TO DIALOGUE

We do not believe in war and want to solve problems through dialogue. Instead of war, we should focus on education and health.

PAKISTANI PRESIDENT ARIF ALVI, in his Pakistan Republic Day speech on Saturday.

The military parade included an air show featuring the Pakistani-built JF-17 fighter jet. One of the JF-17s shot down the Indian plane last month. "Today's parade is sending the message that we are a peaceful people but we will never be oblivious of our defence," Mr Alvi said.

The parade was attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was invited to attend as the chief guest, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Mr Khan said on Twitter earlier that he had received a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his best wishes for Republic Day and calling for peace and regional cooperation.

"I welcome PM Modi's message to our people," Mr Khan said.

"I believe it's time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address and resolve all issues."

The dispute over the state of Kashmir sparked two of the three wars between India and Pakistan after independence, the first in 1947 and the second in 1965. There was a third, largely over what became Bangladesh, in 1971.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2019, with the headline 'Pakistan calls for peace as it shows off military might'. Print Edition | Subscribe