Focus on long-term Pak-US defence partnership: Lloyd Austin

Published October 6, 2022
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin greets Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.—Courtesy Pentagon
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin greets Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.—Courtesy Pentagon

WASHINGTON: US Defe­nce Secretary Lloyd J. Austin said on Wednesday that his talks with visiting Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa focused on the long-standing partnership between the two defence establishments and on areas of mutual interest.

Underlining the importance of this partnership in a tweet he posted on his official site, Secretary Austin noted that this year marks the 75th anniversary of relations between the United States and Pakistan.

In a separate statement, his office said that on Oct 4, Secretary Austin hosted Gen Bajwa at the Pentagon during the 75th anniversary of relations between the United States and Pakistan.

“This long-standing partnership continues today with discussions focused on opportunities to address key mutual defence interests,” the Pentagon said.

ISPR says Gen Bajwa, defence secretary discussed cooperation in various fields

The military’s media department, ISPR, also highlighted this point in its statement, saying that the two leaders also discussed the “regional security situation and bilateral cooperation in various fields”.

Additional points in the ISPR statement included the need for continued assistance from Pakistan’s global partner for the rehabilitation of flood victims in Pakistan and enhancing trade and economic ties between the two allies.

“Both sides had convergence on major international issues, including Afghan­istan,” and also on the “need for cooperation to avoid humanitarian crisis and improving peace and stability in the region”.

Diplomatic sources in Washington, however, say that the talks with US officials focused on renewing the strong defence partnership that once existed between the two allies.

Diplomatic observers view this effort against the backdrop of a recent announcement by the US State Depar­tment that it has asked Cong­ress to release $450 million for the sustenance of Pakis­tan’s fleet of F-16 aircraft.

After the announcement, the US rejected India’s criticism that those planes would be used against New Delhi.

“Pakistan’s programme bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region. It’s in no one’s interests that those threats be able to go forward with impunity,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week.

Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar was also present at the event where Mr Blin­ken defended Pakistan’s right to maintain those pla­nes, but he ignored the rem­arks, although he had earlier said that such statements were “not fooling anybody”.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2022

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