IN this photo released by ISPR, CIA Director William Joseph Burns meets Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi.—AP
IN this photo released by ISPR, CIA Director William Joseph Burns meets Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi.—AP

• Regional security and Afghan situation discussed
• Pakistan reaffirms commitment to partnership for peace

ISLAMABAD: Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns discussed the situation in Afghanistan with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, the ISPR said on Thursday.

“Mr William Joseph Burns, Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), USA, called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid, Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI),” the ISPR said in a statement announcing the visit of the CIA chief.

The ISPR, however, did not mention when the meeting took place. It is believed that Mr Burns had met both Gen Bajwa and Gen Hamid on Wednesday evening. Mr Burns’ visit took place a day after the Taliban announced their caretaker government in Kabul.

Before coming to Islamabad, Mr Burns visited India, where too he discussed the situation in Afghanistan.

Visits by foreign intelligence chiefs are rarely publicly announced.

“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security situation and current situation in Afghanistan were discussed,” the ISPR said without giving further details.

Major US concerns at the moment are evacuation of remaining US nationals and Afghan allies from Afghanistan and ensuring that terrorists do not use Afghan soil to launch attacks in other countries.

It is believed that besides exchanging views on the evolving situation, the CIA chief shared US concerns and expectations.

The US has, meanwhile, been maintaining direct communication with the Taliban as well. Mr Burns secretly met Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Aug 23. It was the first highest-level face-to-face meeting between the Taliban, who had assumed control of Kabul, and the Biden administration.

It was reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to cooperating with its international partners for peace in the region and to ensuring a stable and prosperous future for Afghan people, the ISPR said about Gen Bajwa and Gen Hamid’s discussion with Mr Burns.

Gen Bajwa had in his Defense Day speech at a ceremony at GHQ also assured the international community that Pakistan was ready to cooperate with every country for peace in Afghanistan. He had also urged the world powers to play a positive role for restoration of peace there.

Islamabad in its official reaction to announcement of the caretaker government by the Taliban said it would “address the requirement of a governance structure to meet the urgent needs of the people of Afghanistan”.

It had also hoped that the “new political dispensation will ensure coordinated efforts for peace, security and stability in Afghanistan”.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2021

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