WASHINGTON: The Pakistan Army chief has told the head of the American intelligence agency that a conducive environment in the region was necessary for re-initiating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
Gen Raheel Sharif and Director of Central Intelligence Agency John O. Brennan held a two-hour meeting at the agency’s headquarters on Tuesday and discussed various security challenges facing the region and the way forward to confronting those challenges.
Pakistan says that for permanent peace in Afghanistan, it is also necessary to reduce tensions on its eastern borders with India as these tensions divert its attention away from Afghanistan.
Pakistanis also want the United States to play its role for reducing India-Pakistan tensions and prevent India from using bordering regions of Afghanistan for stirring troubles in Pakistan.
Kerry to discuss with army chief the security issues he had discussed with prime minister
Since the media had no access to the meeting or the participants, the only information about these talks came from tweets sent out by the Pakistan Army’s media chief, Lt Gen Asim Bajwa.
“COAS visited CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, and met director CIA. Regional security challenges and the way forward discussed. COAS specifically highlighted the need for permanent stability” in the region, said the first tweet.
The second tweet said that “the requirement of conducive environment in the region for re-initiating Afghan-owned and led reconciliation process” was also discussed. “Director CIA acknowledged accomplishments of Ops Zarb-i-Azb.”
The third tweet said that the operation’s “positive impact on security calculus” was also discussed.
The CIA chief “appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for recon and discussed opportunities presented for future of an enduring regional peace”.
Gen Sharif arrived in Washington on Sunday evening on a five-day visit for meetings with key US military and political leaders.
On Tuesday, he visited the US Department of Defence for meetings with Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford and Centcom chief, the Pentagon announced.
The details of these talks will be announced after the meetings.
The Pakistani side, however, has maintained complete silence on these talks, often forcing media representatives to speculate.
On Monday, most media outlets ran incorrect reports of Gen Sharif’s meetings at the Pentagon, although the general visited the Pentagon a day later.
KERRY-RAHEEL MEETING: US Secretary of State John Kerry would raise the same security issues with the Pakistan Army chief that he did with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October, the State Department said on Tuesday.
Secretary Kerry is expected to meet Gen Raheel Sharif later this week.
A spokesperson for the State Department told Dawn that US officials had arranged a number of high-level meetings for Gen Sharif, including with Secretary Kerry.
“This meeting will be an opportunity for Secretary Kerry to follow up on some of the security-related conversations that he had with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October,” the spokesperson said.
Asked why was the Pakistani army chief visiting Washington, the State Department official said: “The United States conducts regular consultations with our Pakistani partners. Though the majority of General Raheel’s meetings will be at the Department of Defence, we look forward to productive discussions here at State related to our bilateral defence and security relationship.”
This will be Gen Sharif’s second meeting with Secretary Kerry since he became the army chief in 2013.
After their first meeting on Dec 1, 2014, Secretary Kerry described his talks with the Pakistani general as “productive”.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2015