ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has reassured the parliamentarians about the security of the western border and highlighted the military’s efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He was speaking to a delegation comprising members of the Kashmir committee and the def­e­nce committees of the Sen­ate and National Assembly at the Gen­eral Headquarters on Monday.

The members of the committees, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, were briefed on security environment. The meeting was part of army’s continuing engagement with the political leadership on security issues.

In a similar briefing held on July 1 at the Parliament House, the military and intelligence leaders had briefed the parliamentary leaders on the evolving situation. However, the latest session was the first one after Taliban took over Kabul on Aug 15 following the collapse of Ghani regime.

Bajwa meets parliamentarians at GHQ

“COAS highlighted the importance of restoration of peace in Afghanistan for sustainable development of the region,” the ISPR said in a media statement on the meeting, which took place as the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is set to complete on Aug 31.

Formation of an inclusive government is crucial for the new Taliban administration’s international recognition. While neg­o­tiations are under way in this regard, it is unclear how long the process may take to complete.

At the meeting, the situation on the borders with Afghanistan was also discussed.

A major influx of refugees is still being anticipated. At the same time, there are concerns that Afghanistan-based terrorist groups can benefit from the situation and step up their activities in Pakistan.

Gen Bajwa, however, reassured the parliamentarians about the border security. “COAS said that due to our timely steps for western zone border management, Alhamdo­lillah today despite challenges Pakistan’s borders are secure and we are prepared to meet any situation,” ISPR said.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share 2,640-km-long border, most of which has been fenced by Pakistan to prevent unauthorised cross-border movements, as several terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State are believed to have sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border.

Pakistan Army had launched the ambitious multi-million dollar fencing project in 2017 despite stiff opposition from Kabul. While the project is reportedly nearing completion now, Taliban spokesman Zabhiullah Mujahid, too, has lately expressed reservations about the fence.

The army chief recalled the “unprecedented successes in fight against terrorism” saying they helped in restoring normalcy in the country.

The ISPR said resolve to continue struggle against violent extremism through a synergetic, whole-of-the-nation approach was reaffirmed.

Gen Bajwa on this occasion reiterated Pakistan’s support and commitment to Kashmir cause and people of Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2021

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