Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin discussed “areas of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments” in a telephone conversation, the US Department of Defence has said.
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone today with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir,” it said in a press release yesterday.
“Secretary Austin and Gen. Munir discussed areas of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments.”
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistan Army’s media wing, has yet to issue a statement on the discussion.
While the US statement didn’t offer details on the conversation, the conversation comes amid an uptick in terror activities in Pakistan, especially in KP and Balochistan, after the TTP ended its ceasefire with the government in November last year.
On September 6, four security personnel embraced martyrdom and over 16 militants were killed in an operation to repulse militants from the Chitral district.
A report released in July by the think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies said the first half of the current year witnessed a steady and alarming rise in terror and suicide attacks, claiming the lives of 389 people across the country.
On Monday, US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller offered to work with Pakistan on strategies that can better assist the country’s efforts to counter all forms of violent extremism.
“We will continue to work with Pakistan to ensure that we can better assist Pakistan’s efforts to counter all forms of violent extremism,” Miller said.
Last month, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West identified the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the greatest threat to regional stability.
When asked if Pakistan is a help or hindrance in achieving US goals in Afghanistan, West stated: “I would say on balance they are a help. They are. They are certainly a partner when it comes to security issues. They are a helpful trouble-shooter when it comes to relocation related issues. They have been helpful to us when it comes to refugee processing. So, on balance, I would say help.”