Prime Minister Imran Khan is accompanied by top brass of Pakistan Army including Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, ISI Chief General Faiz Hameed and DG ISPR General Asif Ghafoor among others.
What is the purpose behind Imran Khan’s decision to take along a high-powered Army delegation? What Pakistan military is seeking to achieve from this visit? Here is primer.
DG ISPR General Asif Ghafoor has conformed that the Army Chief General Bajwa will hold talks with Pentagon officials during his visit to Washington: “ 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.
Pakistani’s defence, strategic and deterrence policies are the domain of Pakistan Army and in this regards the processes and inputs of these policies are very much calibrated by the Premier Agency—the ISI. Since Pakistan has become very instrumental in peace efforts and the US possible drawdown from Afghanistan, the Army’s engagement at the institutional and the agency level has expanded with its US counterparts.
The US Army including CENTCOM has liaised with Pakistan Army and its auxiliary institutions in every step of peace and reconciliation talks on Afghanistan. Pakistan’s defence institutions have also helped the US to forge a convergence with Russia and China in particular on Afghanistan’s intra stake holders’-dialogue process: Moscow, Lahore and Qatar processes were the outcome of this convergence. Since the next stage (ie, intra-Afghan peace blueprint is very much important, Pakistani delegation in the US will have a candid discussion in this regards.
The long-term concern of the US remains its gains and investment in Afghanistan: the US wants international community’s support to keep the Afghan institutions and the state economically afloat and Pakistan’s continued support for sustainable peace and stability in the region, after the peace settlement with the Taliban. Also the US mil is actively looking at the suggestion of keeping a robust anti-terror capability in post settlement Afghanistan; it will be seeking Pakistan’s feedback.
Pakistan-US bilaterally come out of the wood—at times when Washington was only asking for “more” and in the same breath threatening Islamabad with dire consequences if their expectations were not met; though, 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 have underlined this robust contribution of Pakistan’s defence forces.
At strategic level, India’s threatening posture will likely be another item on 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 neighbours, HRs brutalities in IOK and proxy warfare against Pakistan. The pretext is the containment of rising China and increased convergence in Indo-Pacific region.
The US side will likely be listening to Army delegation’s short-term concern on India. The Delhi’s refusal to meaningfully engage with Pakistan and keep its borders boiling will likely distract Pakistan’s military’s efforts—focusing more on securing borders rather on consolidating post peace settlement situation in Afghanistan.
What is obvious is Pakistan’s military would be seeking the US thought process on Iran as Islamabad feels squeezed in if the US launches military campaign against Tehran. So far reports suggest no actual preparation for all out war, as files and weaponry remain wrapped.
Since the US is 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. But Pakistani delegation is not interested in peanuts and will not be asking for any aid. It is, however, there to highlight its contribution and input for the stability of the region now and onwards 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 two countries. Pakistan and US mil-to-mil ties were functional but the new level of cooperation will transform them into a robust relations. And only robust relations will likely ensue sustainable peace and stability in the region and can keep spoilers at bay.
Disclaimer: Surkhiyan believes in freedom of expression and providing space for views and opinions from all sides. But we may not agree with everything we publish. The views expressed in this op-ed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Surkhiyan. We do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.