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Become Secular State for Better Ties with India, Army Chief Bipin Rawat Tells Pakistan

Rawat also countered Pakistan PM Imran Khan on his comment that Islamabad is taking one step forward and India should follow suit. “There is contradiction in what they're saying. One step from there should come in a positive manner, we'll see if the step has effect on ground."


Updated:November 30, 2018, 2:53 PM IST

New Delhi: A day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged New Delhi to move forward on the peace dialogue process, India’s Army Chief Bipin Rawat has said that Islamabad has to develop as a secular state for better ties.

“Pakistan has made its state an Islamic State. If they have to stay together with India, then they've to develop as a secular state. We are a secular state. If they're willing to become secular like us, then they seem to have an opportunity,” Rawat was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

He also countered Imran on his comment that Pakistan is taking one step forward and India should follow suit. “They're (Pak) saying you take one step, we'll take two. There is contradiction in what they're saying. One step from there should come in a positive manner, we'll see if the step has effect on ground. Till then our nation has a clear policy, terror and talks can't go together,” said the Army Chief.

On Thursday, speaking on the Kartarpur ground-breaking ceremony, Imran Khan said Pakistan's move should not be confused with with a desperation for peace. "There is a consensus in the country that the only way forward is peace," Imran told CNN-News18.

Imran said the only issue between the two nations is Kashmir. He again called for talks. "Let us talk. I am ready for talks on any issue. There can't be a military solution for Kashmir."

Earlier this week, Pakistan said they will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the SAARC summit, however, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had declared that India will not attend the summit, emphasising that Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.

India had pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit that was to be held in Islamabad after the deadly terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in September that year.

On being questioned why 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed continues to roam free in the country, Imran told CNN-News18: "There is a UN sanction on Hafiz Saeed under 1267. There is already a clampdown. The matter is sub judice. But I have inherited this. It is in our interest that our soil should not be used for terror."

The JuD was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. The group is a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit.

On the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India had hit out at Pakistan for allowing those responsible for the strike that left 166 people dead to roam free.

On the question of India’s most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, Imran said, “Things always get stuck in the past. We should not live in the past but learn from it.”

Dawood is wanted in India for orchestrating the 1993 blasts in which 12 bombs went off at different locations across Mumbai, killing 257 and leaving over 700 injured.

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| Edited by: Mayur Borah
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