ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan wants peace with India, and they should focus on health and education, said the Pakistani president on Saturday during a parade to demonstrate his military might after a tense conflict between nuclear-armed neighbors.
Women of the armed forces march in Pakistan Day parade on March 23, 2018 in Islamabad, Pakistan. REUTERS / Caren Firouz
The conflict between rivals broke out last month after a suicide attack claimed by a Pakistani-based militant group in the Indian party of the disputed and divided Kashmir region, which has killed 40 paramilitary police officers.
"We do not believe in war and want to solve problems through dialogue," said President Arif Alvi in his speech to the Day of the Republic of Pakistan.
"Instead of war, we should focus on education and health."
Pakistani fighter planes engaged in battles in the air over Indian aircraft on Feb. 27, a day after a raid on Native American jets on a militant combat camp Pakistan.
In their first clash since their last war in 1971, Pakistan overthrew an Indian plane and captured its pilot after killing Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.
The pilot was later released as a peace gesture from Pakistan.
The President, who has largely ceremonial duties, said that India blamed Pakistan for the suicide bombing without any evidence, and that this was irresponsible.
The military parade on Saturday included a flight show with Pakistan-built JF-17 fighter jet. One of the planes shot down the Indian plane last month.
"Today's parade sends out the message that we are a peaceful people, but we will never forget our defense," said Alvi.
The parade was attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was invited as the main guest, as well as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Khan previously said on Twitter that he had received a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the best wishes for the Republic Day, calling for peace and regional cooperation.
"I welcome the message from PM Modi to our people," Khan said.
"I believe it is time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address and resolve all issues, and the dispute over the former princely state of Kashmir sparked the first two out of three wars between India and Pakistan after independence from 1947, second in 1965, and a third, which in 1971 became largely about what became Bangladesh.
Saad Sayeed's report; edited by Robert Birsel