WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defence said on Monday they were grateful that the Pakistan army chief was visiting the United States for consultations on bilateral issues.
Also, diplomatic sources told Dawn that a representative of the federal government is participating in all key meetings that the army chief holds in the US.
“We are grateful that COAS Raheel (Sharif) is taking time to hold consultations in person. The Secretary, the Deputy Secretary and the Chairman welcome the COAS and look forward to productive discussions related to our bilateral defence relationship,” a US defence official told Dawn.
At the Pentagon, the army chief will meet Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford and Centcom chief on Tuesday, the official added. He was meeting US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley on Monday.
Gen Sharif will also meet CIA Director John Brennan later in the week.
A representative of federal government participating in all key meetings
A State Department official confirmed that the COAS would meet Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department later this week. Mr Kerry returns to Washington on Tuesday from a week-long visit to Turkey and Europe.
According to a report broadcast by the official Voice of America radio, Gen Sharif might also meet Vice President Joe Biden when he goes to the White House for a meeting with National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Gen Sharif will also meet senior US lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
This confirms that the COAS will meet all key political, defence and security officials during his five-day stay in the US capital.
The list clearly contradicts an earlier Pentagon statement that Gen Sharif was visiting Washington “of his own volition” and that the Pentagon was arranging his meetings on his request.
Washington welcomes dozens of military chiefs every week and most of them return home without meeting the vice president or the secretary of state.
Diplomatic sources told Dawn that Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, Jalil Abbas Jilani, would attend all key meetings.
“The participation of a civilian representative shows that civilian and military establishments are on the same page on all matters of national importance,” a senior diplomatic source said.
Ambassador Jilani, when contacted by Dawn, confirmed that he would be attending all key meetings at the State and Defence departments.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2015