RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa speaks to the top commander of Iran’s air force, Brig Gen Hassan Shahsafi, who called on him at GHQ on Monday.—INP
RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa speaks to the top commander of Iran’s air force, Brig Gen Hassan Shahsafi, who called on him at GHQ on Monday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: The top commander of Iran’s air force, Brig Gen Hassan Shahsafi, on Monday met Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters, and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman at the Air Headquarters.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, Gen Bajwa and Gen Shahsafi discussed matters of professional interest.

The PAF’s media wing did not release any statement.

The visit of the Iranian air force commander is more symbolic. It is one of the rarest military-level exchanges between the two countries whose relations have, for most of the time, remained tepid due to varying alignment in regional and global politics.

Gen Bajwa’s visit to Tehran was hailed by both sides as a major step forward.

Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir have stated on multiple occasions that Gen Bajwa’s visit provided new opening in ties with Iran.

More military-level exchanges, officials said, were being planned.

Speaking at a think-tank last week about Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, Mr Dastgir said, the government’s Middle East policy was “undergirded by its longstanding close relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and by the focus on limiting the domestic fallout of sectarian tensions stemming from the Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalry”.

He said checks and balances were being kept in ties with Iran and the KSA. Pakistan, he said, had “ideological affinity and deep military, economic, and leadership” ties with the Kingdom, whereas it was building “economic cooperation and counter-terrorism links” with Iran.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2018

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