After a day-long visit to Afghanistan, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif is due to leave for United States on November 15 on a week-long visit to hold crucial talks with his US counterparts on issues ranging from military cooperation to peace and stability in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Nato forces.
Informed sources told Business Recorder that General Raheel, in his first visit to the US as Chief of Army Staff, will hold crucial talks with top US military leadership on various issues related to defence and security. He would also exchange views with US military officials on the ongoing military operation against militants, the Zarb-e-Azb, and efforts towards restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The visit is taking place at a critical time with the scheduled departure of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan by the end of the year; tripartite talks have been under way between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US to prepare a peaceful exit for the international forces. Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam also described the Army Chief’s Kabul visit as part of the country’s continuous engagement with Afghanistan at various levels, which was followed by an earlier visit by Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz last month.
The Army Chief’s visit to the US is happening at a time when the Pentagon in its six-monthly report to the US Congress accused Pakistan of using terrorists as proxies to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter Indian’s superior military.
The sources said that the Army Chief would also take up this matter during his meetings with the US military officials. The Foreign Office has already rejected the Pentagon report and lodged a protest by summoning US Ambassador Richard Olson. “Pakistan wants peace and stability in Afghanistan as we believe a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan,” said a top Pakistani diplomat, saying that the allegations in the Pentagon’s report were very unfortunate.
According to sources, the Army Chief during his week long visit to the US will explain Pakistan’s legitimate ambitions and the line of action to ensure a peaceful South Asia including Afghanistan and to cooperate with the newly elected Afghan government for the restoration of peace and stability in that country.
SOURCE: RECORDER REPORT