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National unity: PM & COAS meet 3rd time in a week


News Analysis |

Ahead of the visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tomorrow, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa yesterday met and discussed, among other matters, the uneasy relationship between the two countries. The third meeting between the Premier and the head of the armed forces bodes well for civil and military relations as well as internal unity.

“COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in PM secretariat today [in Islamabad]. Matters related to Defence Day, US-Pakistan relations, internal and external security situation were discussed,” the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said on its official Twitter account.

Sources said the civilian and military top bosses discussed the overall security situation in the country with specific reference to Islamabad’s pursuits against terrorism in all its manifestations and forms. The first meeting between PM Imran and COAS Bajwa came on August 27 when the two leaders expressed their resolve to continue efforts for enduring peace and stability in the country as well as the region.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood made the remarks a day after the Pentagon disclosed it decided to scrap the funds because Pakistan was not doing enough against terrorist groups inside its borders.

On August 30, Prime Minister Imran Khan along with his select cabinet colleagues visited the General Headquarters (GHQ) and assured that the government would provide all resources to require and maintain the capability and capacity of the Army. In today’s meeting, the COAS also briefed the PM on the ongoing operations against terrorists and the follow-up operations in the tribal areas, where success had led to the demolition of the terrorist capacity to carry out attacks.

Both of them have expressed Islamabad’s resolve to hunt down the remnants of terrorists who were at the run after a successful operation against them in Tribal Areas. The issues relating to National Action Plan’s implementation also figured in the meeting and both have expressed satisfaction over the pace of implementation on the NAP. Prime Minister Khan said the country was facing both internal and external challenges and these could be overcome with the support of the nation and a cohesive national approach.

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The army chief thanked the prime minister for posing confidence in the Army. “The COAS assured that Pakistan Army would Inshallah continue to deliver on the nation’s expectations of defending the motherland at all costs and sacrifices,” as per an ISPR press release. Sources informed that the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Mike Pompeo and the recent cut on the US aid to Pakistan also came under discussion.

Pakistan the other day cautiously reacted to the US cancellation of $300 million in aid to Pakistan, saying the money is not assistance but reimbursements for the country’s expenses in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan has dismissed as “incorrect” reports the United States has canceled $300 million in military aid to the country, saying Washington owed the money to Islamabad for expenses incurred on fighting terrorism.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) has made safe havens inside Afghanistan from where it launches attacks inside Pakistani territory.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood made the remarks a day after the Pentagon disclosed it decided to scrap the funds because Pakistan was not doing enough against terrorist groups inside its borders. “It is not a cut in any [U.S.] aid, it is not assistance. This is our own money which we have used for improving the regional security situation and they had to reimburse it to us,” Qureshi told reporters Sunday in Islamabad.

The controversy is the latest to hit Islamabad’s troubled relationship with Washington, coming a few days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo together with General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to visit the South Asian nation. This will be Washington’s first high-level dialogue with Islamabad since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office following recent elections.

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Most of the current Pak-US tensions seem to be revolving around Afghanistan. The US is fighting one of its longest wars in Pakistan’s western neighbor and routinely blames Pakistan for insurgent attacks within Afghanistan. At the same time, it doesn’t consider Pakistan’s apprehensions of safe havens for terror groups fleeing anti-militancy operations into Afghanistan.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) has made safe havens inside Afghanistan from where it launches attacks inside Pakistani territory. Declared a terror group in the USA, Washington has largely failed to take action against Afghan and Indian government support to the TTP.

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