Peace and stability will help country make rapid economic progress, said Raheel Sharif ─ Reuters/File

LONDON: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Thursday said that Pakistan wants peaceful and friendly relations with India but not at the cost of its own interests and dignity.

Speaking at the dinner hosted by Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London Syed Ibne Abbas, General Raheel Sharif said Pakistan is going through its most crucial time in history and added that peace and stability will eventually take the country towards a brighter future.

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He said that Pakistan’s anti-terror offensive, Operation Zarb-i-Azb, has had a positive effect on the country’s security situation and will ultimately rid it of terrorism.

“Our forces have rendered great sacrifices and now it is time for Pakistan to move on, let peace and stability help the country make rapid economic progress,” said Raheel Sharif.

The army chief also repeated the resolve to to bring back the displaced families of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) back to their homes.

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Speaking about Pakistan-UK bilateral relations, Army chief said the two countries have historical relations and military links which are gaining strength.

He also thanked the British-Pakistani community for their support in the ‘testing times’ Pakistan is going through saying that overseas Pakistanis understand the challenges faced by their home country.

The High Commissioner, in his address, after welcoming the Chief of Army Staff and his delegation lauded Pakistan Army’s sacrifices during the anti-terror operation.

“The courage with which the armed forces and the people of Pakistan are fighting the menace of terrorism is unparalleled,” said Ibne Abbas.

The dinner was attended by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Lords, business leaders, Pakistani community along with British military and civil service officers.

Also Read: Zarb-i-Azb: one year on

Military operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched by the Pakistan Army on June 15 following a brazen militant attack on Karachi’s international airport claimed by the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and failure of peace talks between the government and TTP negotiators.

More than a million people had fled the offensive in North Waziristan, which is aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan.