Afghan issue tops agenda of Bajwa’s talks with US officials

Updated July 22, 2019

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This marks the first time that the country’s top generals are accompanying the prime minister to a White House meeting. —DawnNewsTV/File
This marks the first time that the country’s top generals are accompanying the prime minister to a White House meeting. —DawnNewsTV/File

WASHINGTON: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will interact with top US military leadership at the Pentagon during a three-day visit to Washington, the military’s media chief said.

Briefing journalists at the Pak­is­­tan Embassy, Washington, on Saturday afternoon, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor urged the media not to link the army chief’s visit with that of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

But he did say that the army chief would attend the prime minister’s meeting with US President Donald Trump on Monday. This marks the first time that the country’s top generals are accompanying the prime minister to a White House meeting with the US president.

US sources told Dawn that Gen Bajwa is expected to meet US defence secretary, the current and the newly nominated chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior military officials during his visit to the Pentagon.

Other military and security officials accompanying the prime minister will also have separate meetings with their counterparts. The US sources say that those meetings will focus on Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process and the security situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Recently, the United States declared a Baloch separatist group — the Balochsitan Liberation Army — a global terrorist outfit, making it a crime for all US citizens to have any dealings with this group. Pakistan has appreciated the US gesture.

Last week, Pakistan also fulfilled a long-standing US demand by arresting Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed. The US blames him for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which also killed American citizens, and wants him prosecuted and punished.

At the briefing, the ISPR DG underlined the need for Washington to revise its travel advisories, which portray Pakistan as an insecure place.

Maj Gen Ghafoor said the situation in Pakistan was “far better now” as the “sacrifices of [the] Pakistani nation and security forces have started yielding results”. Pakistan, he said, was so far the only state that had defeated terrorism on its soil, which was a universally acclaimed achievement.

The ISPR chief also defended the decision to fence the Pak-Afghan border, as it had improved border control and ­continued to reduce terrorism-related incidents.

Now, the security forces were focusing on Balochistan, he said, adding that the military was working with civilian authorities on restructuring and developing the areas affected by terrorism.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2019