Pakistan armed forces' media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations' (ISPR) former Director General, Major General Athar Abbas (retd) on Sunday said that dialogue with India, on levels other than the security establishment, is "a need of Pakistan", media reports said.
He made the remarks during a panel discussion - titled 'Search for peace and security among neighbours' - on the final day of the 14th Karachi Literature Festival, Dawn reported.
Abbas said: "Dialogue is, at present, a need of our country... The way forward is not just the state apparatus, because if you leave it (solely) to the security establishment, there will be no move forward. It will be like taking one step forward and two steps backwards.
"There has to be an initiative... like track II diplomacy, like media, like business and trade organisations, like academia... and they can interact and create their space within Indian society, etc.
"That builds pressure on the (Indian) government (and) state authorities that they must look into what the people are saying. This is a requirement of time that dialogue is a need of Pakistan."
If met with resistance, he said that Pakistan could also involve "external actors" such as the US and the European Union.
Asked how soon he saw any talks with the neighbours taking place, Gen Abbas said: "You cannot change your neighbour. Eventually, they will have to come to a negotiating table ... even if it feels it is a great power," Dawn reported.
The former DG ISPR remarked that instability in Pakistan would also spill over into India and vice versa, and that "we should not only wait for the establishment" and look towards other options as well.
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