On Sunday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Tehran for a three day official visit. His visit to Tehran was announced by military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor. However, no official statements have been given yet as to what the nature of the visit is. Since the announcement of USA’s policy for the region, both the neighbours have been extremely cautious and believe that improvement of bilateral ties between the brotherly states is the way forward. Under the ambit of the same idea, several meetings have been carried out before as well in the last couple of months. However, only three have been made public.
So far the COAS seems to be following his own quiet brand of diplomacy. If one is to analyse the tenure of the former COAS General Raheel Sharif, one can conclude that his brand of diplomacy was very much out there for the public eye. His visits, both national and international, were regularly followed by the media and the Twitter updates. The current Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif’s press conference-friendly gregariousness is also well known. Hence in comparison to both, General Bajwa has been conducting his meetings without fanfare.
Away from the spotlight the COAS has conducted trips to both Iran and Saudi Arabia in a short space of time, keeping a balance that has been difficult to maintain by successive military and civil leaderships.
However, can only assume, or guess that the trips maintained balance – or what they achieved at all.
While these are great diplomatic initiatives, the problem lies in their secretive nature. Relations do improve on a military to military basis, but keeping the public in the loop of the developments is a tenant of the democratic ideology that we adhere to. The people must be told the tangents our foreign policy intends to go on.