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ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Monday met Prime Minister Imran Khan for the third time in eight days.

The Prime Minister Office said in a brief statement: “Matters related to security were discussed.”

The two had in their first official meeting last Monday vowed to work closely on security issues. The military has been in the driving seat on security matters for a while, but with PM Khan keeping the interior ministry with himself it is expected that the two would be interacting more frequently over security matters.

PM Khan’s visit to the GHQ last week was marked by some exceptional optics. Gen Bajwa thanked him for “posing confidence in the army”.

It is also important to note that the latest interaction between PM Khan and Gen Bajwa came ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan.

The secretary of state will make a stopover in Islamabad on his way to Delhi to engage with the new government.

Pakistan government has made several gestures to engage the US, with which it has a complicated relationship, to make a fresh and productive start.

However, the US decision to end Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements sent a strong message that future engagement would be contingent upon cooperation to end war in Afghanistan. Besides, the US has reservations about Pakistan’s growing closeness with China.

It is believed that the two had a detailed discussion on the engagement with the US. Official circles speculated that the two had agreed on a measured response to the US’ aggressive attitude.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018