Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa contradicted himself during his first appearance before a parliament forum as he urged the country's lawmakers to try to improve relations with India but also appeared to defend Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.
"The military is ready to back political leadership's initiative for normalisation of relations with India," Bajwa was quoted as saying by The Times of India. He was addressing the Senate Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday.
Though Bajwa's statement was viewed as a "major gesture" by the Pakistani media, it does go against his remark made during the same briefing in defense of Hafiz Saeed, the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind.
According to The New Indian Express, when the army chief was asked about Saeed's role in fighting for the country during an 'in-camera session', he said: “Like every other Pakistani, Saeed can also take up the Kashmir cause."
Bajwa's statement came days after former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf said that he was Saeed's "biggest supporter".
Musharraf also declared his support for terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, calling them "the biggest force".
"India got them declared as terrorists after partnering with the US. Yes, they (LeT) are involved in Kashmir, but in Kashmir it is between us and India," Musharraf said.
The US has constantly pushed Pakistan to improve its relations with India. In October, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson had said that US was keen on helping Pakistan improve relations with both India and Afghanistan.
Though Bajwa addressed US concern over Pakistan's relations with India, he failed to acknowledge its issues with the release of Saeed.
Saeed was freed on 22 November, months after being placed under house arrest.
The Donald Trump administration was quick to express its displeasure and said that Saeed was designated "a terrorist leader by both the United Nations and the United States".
The JuD chief carries a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities.
Updated Date: Dec 21, 2017 16:22 PM