News Analysis |
In an attempt to ease tensions between US and Pakistan, Commander US Central Command (Centcom) General Joseph L Votel made a telephone call to Chief of the Army Staff General (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Friday released the details of General Bajwa’s recent contact with US leadership.
General Votel and an unnamed US senator called the COAS and discuss matters of security cooperation between US and Pakistan in light of the soaring tensions between the two nations. General Votel is overseeing the US operations in Afghanistan. He acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terror and hoped that the turbulence between the relations of the two nations remains temporary.
On the Pakistani side, the Foreign Office has condemned the US president’s statement but also hinted that dialogue was on going with the American authorities and that US and Pakistan are still allies.
The US general assured the COAS that the US is not planning to take any unilateral action against Pakistan. However, he also warned that the opinion that Pakistan is not helping the US and is harbouring terrorists on its soil is hurting Pakistan’s reputation in Washington.
General Bajwa recognized the US concerns of Afghan nationals living in Pakistan but assured that they are conducting multiple operations through Raddul Fasad to fight terrorism. He told the US General that Pakistan felt betrayed over US allegations, the unanimous response of Pakistani nation is a testimony of our sentiments.
He also said that Pakistan doesn’t demand the funds to continue with its fight against terror; however, it does expect that its sacrifices and contribution in the war against terrorism should be acknowledged. General Bajwa vowed to continue the fight against terrorism even without any US assistance.
the Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, recently said that Pakistan has cut all ties with US and they are no longer allies. Defence Minister Khurram Dastigir also announced on Wednesday that Pakistan has suspended intelligence cooperation with the US.
Relaying Pakistan’s expectations from US, General Bajwa told the US general that effective border management of Pak-Afghan border is imperative in the fight against terrorism. He explained that Pakistan has been unilaterally managing the 2500km long border and the fencing is underway, but no similar action has been taken place from the Afghan side.
‘If Afghanistan genuinely feels affected from Pakistan, bilateral border management must be Kabul’s top priority as well,’ General Bajwa said. One argument given from the Afghanistan side opposing border management is that it would constitute accepting the Durand Line as the international border. A fallacious argument at best since the on the western side India has fenced major parts of the LOC which has not constituted recognition of it as an international border by either side.
The relationship between the US and Pakistan has come to a critical juncture after the US President Donald Trump made a cutting tweet on New Year, accusing Pakistan of ‘lies and deceit’ and of harbouring terrorists on its soil. US has since interrupted all military funds to Pakistan which amount to almost $2billion. The tweet caused severe resentment among Pakistani people and leadership and received nationwide condemnation; leaving the status of US-Pak relations in cold storage again.
General Bajwa recognized the US concerns of Afghan nationals living in Pakistan but assured that they are conducting multiple operations through Raddul Fasad to fight terrorism.
Initially, there were speculations that Pakistan would close airspace and roads to US military supply lines, but US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis , dismissed the rumours and hoped for more cooperation between the two nations in the future. On the other hand, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert while announcing that US has suspended all military aid to Pakistan also warned that US will take further action if Pakistan fails to comply with its demands. There were also some unlikely rumours that US will take unilateral action against Pakistan.
On the Pakistani side, the Foreign Office has condemned the US president’s statement but also hinted that dialogue was on going with the American authorities and that US and Pakistan are still allies. By contrast, the Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, recently said that Pakistan has cut all ties with US and they are no longer allies.
Defence Minister Khurram Dastigir also announced on Wednesday that Pakistan has suspended intelligence cooperation with the US. However, during the Foreign Office briefing, the following day, it was confirmed that Pakistan is engaging with US over topics of mutual interest including mutual assistance.