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India left out – Imran Khan and Army Chief join forces with US

Speaking to the press in Washington, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa and DG ISI Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed will accompany PM Khan on his 3-day visit to Washington. The top military leaders will engage in discussion with their counterparts at the Pentagon.

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Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa will engage in discussions with the top leadership of the US military in meetings held at the Pentagon, as part of the military-level engagement during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 3-day visit to Washington.

Director Generals Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor announced earlier today that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Bajwa will attend the meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s delegation.

Pakistan is moving forward. We are grateful for our military forces for exhibiting a responsible approach and a positive attitude.

DG ISPR tweeted, “COAS at Washington, DC. On 22 July 19, after the meeting at White House as part of Prime Minister’s delegation, COAS will visit Pentagon to interact with Acting Secretary Defence Mr. Richard Spencer, CJCS Gen Joseph Dunford and Chief of Staff of US Army Gen Mark A Milley.”

The military’s official spokesperson noted that the Army Chief will interact with the Acting Secretary Defense, Mr. Richard Spencer. Addressing the media at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, on Saturday, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor had requested the press not to associate Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s visit to Washington with that of the Prime Minister’s.

The Army Chief will attend the White House meeting as part of the premier’s delegation; however, he would be addressing the more pressing concerns faced by the Pakistan Army, in separate discussions with the US defense establishment.

DG ISI Gen Faiz Hameed, and other senior defense officials in the COAS’s delegation will engage separately with their US counterparts. Sources reveal that these defense-centered meeting will be focused on the Pakistan Army’s cooperation for the Afghan reconciliation process, and the security situation prevailing across the region.

Pak-US Defense Engagement

Diplomatic sources reveal that Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will hold a meeting with US Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan, and the recently appointed Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen Mark Milley, alongside other senior defense officials at the Pentagon.

Read more: Conspiracies & Propaganda to undermine PM Imran Khan’s US visit: Jan Achakzai

Analysts believe that this delegation, comprising Pakistan’s top political and military leadership will send a clear message of unity in Washington. President Trump is largely focused on the eradication of terrorism and ushering peace in Afghanistan, which requires constant support of Pakistan’s civil and military leadership.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi noted that the Premier’s decision of taking the military leadership along is a “harbinger of fortune” for Pakistan. He stated, “We are all well aware of the speculations of the past, indicating a rift between the civilian and military establishment, revealing that they are not on the same page. Alhamdulillah, no such rifts exist today. Both the civil and military leaders stand united in the face of all challenges and fortunes for the country.”

“Pakistan is moving forward. We are grateful for our military forces for exhibiting a responsible approach and a positive attitude.”

The Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi recalled that the military establishment has, time and again, supported the PTI-led government’s initiative, as seen during the federal government’s decision to freeze the military budget.

ISI in Washington

Speaking to Global Village Space, Jan Achakzai, geo-strategic analyst, noted that the Pakistani military establishment is a key stakeholder in Pakistan’s role in maintaining regional stability and peace.

Jan Achakzai underscored that the military establishment will engage with the US on multiple agendas, including India’s aggressive posturing, however, the Pakistan Army does not seek aid.

Achakzai noted, “Pakistani’s defense, strategic and deterrence policies are the domain of the Pakistan Army and in this regard the processes and inputs of these policies are very much calibrated by the Premier Agency—the ISI.”

He added, “Since Pakistan has become very instrumental in peace efforts and the US’s possible draw-down from Afghanistan, the Army’s engagement at the institutional and the agency level has expanded with its US counterparts.”

Explaining the cooperation between the Pakistan and US Army, Achakzai explained, “The US Army including CENTCOM has liaised with Pakistan Army and the auxiliary institution in every step of peace and reconciliation talks on Afghanistan.”

Recounting Pakistan’s contributions to the ongoing US efforts to broker peace in Afghanistan, the Baloch analyst noted, “Pakistan’s defense institutions have also helped the US to forge a convergence with Russia and China in particular on Afghanistan’s intra-dialogue process: Moscow, Lahore and Qatar processes were the outcome of this convergence. Since the next stage (i.e., intra-Afghan peace blueprint is very much important, Pakistani delegation in the US will have a candid discussion in this regard.”

Read more: “Diversity of Pakistan is our strength,” says Army Chief

Achakzai continued, “The US Army has always continued robust engagement with Pakistan Army: issues like security cooperation, Al Qaeda, G/LOC access to NATO forces in Afghanistan and nuclear stability are underlined in this robust contribution of Pakistan’s defense forces.”

Pak Army not Interested in Peanuts  

Jan Achakzai underscored that the military establishment will engage with the US on multiple agendas, including India’s aggressive posturing, however, the Pakistan Army does not seek aid. But in fact, it will encourage a discussion about the US designs with regards to Iran.

The Pakistani delegation is not interested in peanuts but is there to highlight its contribution and input for the stability of the region now and after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Achakzai explained, “At strategic level, India’s threatening posture will likely be another item on the agenda between the two sides; the US Establishment has spurred India in South Asia at the cost of Pakistan’s interests indirectly sponsoring Delhi’s bellicosity against smaller neighbors; human rights violations, and brutalities in Indian-occupied Kashmir and proxy warfare against Pakistan. The pretext is the containment of rising China and increased convergence in Indo-Pacific region.”

He added, “What is obvious is Pakistan’s military will not be asking for any aid and would be seeking a US thought process on Iran as Islamabad feels squeezed in if the US launches a military campaign against Tehran.”

Achakzai added that the US is under obligation to provide maintenance for the military equipment procured by the Pakistan Army. The delegation led by Gen Qamar Bajwa and DG ISI Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed is not “interested in peanuts”.

He said, “Since the US has been providing military equipment in the past, it still has an obligation for their maintenance so it can offer serviceability and may hint at small trainings for Pakistani Army Officers.”

Read more: U.S wants Pakistan to “do more” in bringing Taliban to the negotiation table

Achakzai concluded, “The Pakistan delegation is not interested in peanuts but is there to highlight its contribution and input for the stability of the region now and after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Of course, the exchange provides catharsis to both sides. Overall this visit will sharply reduce the discomfiture between the ties of the two countries.”

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