US hopeful of improving ties with Pak military

Published November 15, 2014
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby. — AP/File
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby. — AP/File

WASHINGTON: The United States views any opportunity to increase cooperation and coordination with the Pakistani military as a good thing, says the US Defence Department, while commenting on Islamabad’s offer to train Afghan security forces in Pakistan.

Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, who arrives in Washington on Saturday on a weeklong visit to the United States, offered to train Afghan security forces in Pakistan when he visited Kabul earlier this week.

Also read: Offer to train Afghan troops renewed

“I think that’s something that the Afghan government needs to speak to, the degree to which they find that helpful,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby when asked to comment on the Pakistani offer.

“We’ve said all along, Pakistan’s a key partner in the region. Any opportunity that can be had to increase cooperation and coordination with the Pakistani military is a good thing.”

Asked if transferring some of the responsibilities to Pakistan would lessen the burden on US forces, Mr Kirby said the US mission in Afghanistan will change at the end of the year, from combating the enemy to training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces.

“We are working closely with our Nato allies on the sourcing for that,” he said, adding that there would be need for “a significant international commitment to the training and advising of Afghan National Security Forces post 2014”.

The Pentagon spokesman said that many nations were already involved in that effort, primarily through Nato auspices.

“I would not speculate about the role that Pakistan might play. That’s really for the Pakistani government to talk to,” he said.

Rear Admiral Kirby was equally careful when asked to explain the objectives of Gen Sharif’s visit to the United States.

“You should ask the Pakistani government what he’s going to say,” he said. “And you should talk to the Pakistani leadership about what their expectations are for the trip.”

The Washington Post, however, reported on Friday that Gen Sharif would be greeted with “far less scepticism” than his predecessor when he arrives on his first visit to the United States as the army chief.

The first indication of change came last week, when a senior US general tried to reduce the impact of an earlier Pentagon report which blamed Pakistan for continued militant attacks on US forces in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2014

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