King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain meets Pakistani civil-military leadership at JSHQ in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. – Photo courtesy: ISPR
ISLAMABAD: King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain along with his delegation made an unprecedented visit to the Joint Services Headquarters (JSHQ) in Rawalpindi, said a press release issued by ISPR Wednesday night.
The king is on a three-day official visit to Pakistan, leading a 21-member delegation which includes his top defence and internal security chiefs.
Upon his arrival, King Hamad was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt were also present on the occasion.
The ISPR press release said that both sides discussed “brotherly relations between the two countries and vowed to further enhance military cooperation.”
“Paying rich tributes to Pakistan's Military for its valour and sacrifices in defence of the motherland, His Majesty particularly praised professionalism, quality of training and commitment of Pakistan's Armed Forces,” it added.
King Hamad was also presented a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent of tri-services.
Pakistan has been looking at the visit as an opportunity for expanding trade and promoting investment links but Bahrain appears more interested in bolstering defence relationship.
A Bahraini official said that in his talks with Pakistani leaders the king would touch upon current “regional and international developments as well as issues of mutual interest.”
It is routine for Pakistani services chiefs to pay courtesy calls on foreign heads of state and government while visiting Islamabad, but a trip by a foreign leader to the JSHQ is exceptional.
A source told Dawn that the king was expected to discuss reinforcement of defence cooperation between the two countries during his visit to the JSHQ.
Pakistan had in 2011 helped Bahrain quell an uprising against the monarchy by sending security personnel recruited through military’s welfare wings – Fauji Foundation and Bahria Foundation.
Moreover, Pakistan had previously aided Bahrain in setting up its naval forces and 18 per cent of the Gulf state’s air force comprises Pakistani personnel. It is estimated that over 10,000 Pakistanis are serving in security services of Bahrain.
The Bahrain government had in the past expressed interest in procuring defence equipment from Pakistan.
The king had begun his visit on Tuesday by meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House.
Sharif said Pakistan and Bahrain enjoy “close and cordial relations based on mutual trust and understanding.”