General Lloyd J Austin, Commander United States Central Command (Centcom), called on Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Raheel Sharif here at the General Headquarters on Monday. According to Inter Services Public Relations, during the meeting, the matters of mutual interest including bilateral defence co-operation and overall regional security situation with special emphasis on Afghanistan were discussed.
The Commander CENTCOM lauded the sacrifices rendered by the Pakistan Army in the war against terrorism and on-going Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has dismantled terrorists’ networks. Earlier, on arrival at the GHQ, General Lloyd J Austin laid a floral wreath at Yadgare-e- Shuhada to pay tribute to Pakistani martyrs.
Commander General Lloyd Austin also met with Secretary Defence Lieutenant General Muhammad Alam Khattak (Retd.). The visiting delegation comprised ODRP Chief, Political Advisor and Communications Director from the US side and senior officials from the Pakistan side attended the meeting. Muhammad Alam Khattak told the visiting commander that Pakistan played stabilising role in the drawdown of the US and allied forces from Afghanistan. He added, “We are the fulcrum of security for South Asia. Our importance in this regard needs to be understood, because stability and security of the region is linked to the stability of Pakistan.”
He further said that Pakistan had made sincere efforts to help Afghan Government to stabilise and facilitate peace process in Afghanistan. General Lloyd Austin said that he was fully cognisant of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan Army & its people in the continuing war on terror. He expressed condolences on the sad incident of Peshawar school attack and acknowledged the continued commitment of Pakistan towards peace. “Pakistan wants peace in the region and is making an effort to make its borders peaceful. Our desire for peace should be facilitated by our friends so that our efforts reap fruits,” added Secretary Defence.
The meeting was significant in the wake of the current scenario. It ended with the hope that USA will continue understanding the difficulties faced by Pakistan. Pakistan and USA have a history of bilateral relations which have evolved on the principles of mutual respect, shared common interest and understanding of each others perspective.