The past few months, we have been left seeking an update on our relations with India, as we saw countless petty skirmishes and hostilities exchanged. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the passing out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, has given us the clarification we needed.

The COAS offered a peaceful resolution to the many issues that Pakistan and India face, stating that the route to peaceful resolution of Pak-India disputes, including the core issue of Kashmir, ran through comprehensive and meaningful dialogue. The army chief reminded that Pakistan remains committed to such a dialogue, but only on the basis of sovereign equality, dignity and honour. General Bajwa also reminded that Pakistan had done its part to cleanse the country of the scourge of terrorism and extremism without any distinction, and also spoke against terrorism in any region. While reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to peace, the COAS also expressed support for right of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

This was a much needed clarification on part of the armed forces, for Pakistan and for the rest of the world, to judge what Pakistan’s position is with India right now. Show of support for cooperation, but tinged with dignity and self-respect is the right position to take, especially in the face of India’s small skirmishes. Such a statement also incentivises India to take the same peaceful route, since any hostility on part of India just lets it dirty its own hands.

One significant and commendable part of the COAS’s speech was his remembrance of the people of Kashmir. The recent murder case of a Muslim Kashmiri girl has revealed the intense anti-Muslim bigotry present in India, not just through the murder, but also the reaction of Indian lawyers and politicians, who refused to register the case.

For the past few years, with constant cease-fire violations, and anti-Muslim rhetoric, it has been clear who has been the aggressor and who has taken the higher route, between India and Pakistan. The recent hike in anti-Muslim riots and hateful rhetoric among Indian politicians has shown to the international community that Pakistan is the peaceful one here. If India retaliates to Pakistan’s hand of friendship with more hostility, it will only be to its own detriment, as it will cause further damage to its international reputation, and wash away any chance of representation on the UNSC. The ball now is in India’s court.