WASHINGTON: Army Chief Gen Asim Munir left for Wash­ington on Sunday for his inaugural visit to the United States since assuming the role last year.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed in a statement that this was Gen Munir’s first visit to the United States as the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), during which he is scheduled to meet senior US military and government officials.

Since the brief note announcing the visit only said he had left Islamabad, speculations focused on the team accompanying the army chief and his meetings in Washington.

The military chief’s itinerary includes meetings with the US Secretary of Defence, Secretary of State, and the National Security Adviser at the White House.

ISPR says Gen Munir will meet senior US military, govt officials

Gen Munir may also address a select gathering of US scholars and foreign policy experts, alth­ough this has not been finalised yet.

The army chief’s visit came a day after the conclusion of the two-day stay of Thomas West, the United States Special Represen­tative for Afghanistan, in Pakistan.

The American envoy conveyed Washington’s resolve to “stand with Pakistan” in its fight against terrorism and the challenges posed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Another senior US diplomat, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Horst, is also visiting Pakistan, but it’s not clear if she met the army chief before he flew out to Washington.

Notably, the army chief has engaged with several US officials since taking office, including discussions with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in October and a meeting with US Central Command chief Gen Michael Erik Kurilla in July, where the latter recognised Pakistan’s efforts for regional peace and stability.

“Secretary Austin and Gen Munir discussed areas of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments,” the Pentagon said in a statement after the Munir-Austin meeting.

In July, Gen Kurilla called on the COAS in Rawalpindi and recognised Pakistan’s “continued efforts” to bring peace and stability to the region.

Speculation surrounding Gen Munir’s visit to the United States first began in November last year, when he assumed office. Earlier this year, both US and Pakistani officials confirmed that a visit was on the cards, but could not give a timeline.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2023

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