Islamabad - Ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan 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 army chief called on the premier at his office and it was their third meeting in a week’s time, following the assumption of office by Imran Khan last month.

“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 overall security situation in the country with specific reference to Islamabad’s pursuits against terrorism in all its manifestations and forms.

The COAS also briefed the PM on the ongoing operations against terrorists and the follow up operations in the tribal areas – where the armed forces had successfully smashed the terrorists.

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 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.

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.

Pak-US relations

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.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed a press conference on Sunday but refrained from giving a knee-jerk reaction on this issue. The guarded reaction came after consultations at the Foreign Office where other state institutions also gave their inputs on how to respond to the latest US move.

It was decided not to react strongly at this stage and wait for the visit of US Secretary of State Pompeo, who along with top US military officer General Joseph Dunford, is due in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Pompeo visit is already marred by a controversy over a telephonic conversation between PM Khan and the secretary of state. The two sides issued divergent statements after the telephonic conversation.

Pakistan contested the State Department’s version that Pompeo had raised the issue of the presence of terrorist groups on the Pakistani soil with the new prime minister. However, Foreign Office spokesperson later said Pakistan had decided to move on after the State Department reportedly shared a transcript of the telephonic conversation with Pakistan.

 

Internal unity

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.

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.

A group of television anchors met with the PM a few days ago and they were told that the divide between the civilian and military arms of the state was nothing but a myth made by the previous government.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi later said that the PTI government and the army were not on only on same page but read from the same book.

Speaker calls on PM

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qasir also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at his office yesterday and discussed with him the legislative business and his interaction with the heads of various opposition parties for the smooth conduct of house’s business.

The matter relating to the presidential elections scheduled to be held today (Tuesday) also came under discussion and the speaker said that he would try to ensure that the whole exercise would be conducted in smooth and peaceful manners.

He further discussed the issue pertaining to the prime minister’s desire to himself answer questions on the floor of the lower house of the Parliament for which the rules of business needed to be amended.

Speaker Asad Qasir also briefed the prime minister on the austerity measures he had taken due to which the day to day expenses of the National Assembly had considerably scaled down.